Wednesday, March 9, 2022

The Mass Exodus of Educators Is Real, And It Isn't Why You Think

Remember at the start of Covid, when kids around the country were having to do school from home, and frazzled parents everywhere said, "Dear teachers, we're so sorry we didn't appreciate you! We'll give you whatever you want! Anything at all! Just please take our kids back"? Yeah, I don't really remember that either. It was rather a short-lived phase. As soon as the kids were back in school, parents forgot all about the stress of home-schooling. And honestly, it wasn't even home-schooling. Parents didn't need to curate curriculum, ensuring standards were met. They didn't need to differentiate instruction, or really give any instruction at all. Parents didn't need to collect data, make sure IEPs were met, or administer assessments while trying to ascertain if cheating was going on from afar. They didn't need to monitor kids working from home while also teaching to the students physically in their classrooms, attempting to give adequate attention to both groups, but failing because it's a literally impossible task. Parents had to simply monitor their kids and make sure they were logging into classes and doing work (something they should be doing anyway.)

But here we are. And teachers are leaving the profession in droves. According to the National Education Association survey of its members, "a staggering 55 percent of educators are thinking about leaving the profession earlier than they had planned. This represents a significant increase from 37 percent in August and is true for educators regardless of age or years teaching, driving buses, or serving meals to students."

It's a vicious circle. As more and more educators leave, those who stay are left to pick up the slack. In an already trying year, staff is constantly being forced to combine classes, give up planning periods to cover colleagues who are sick, and take on more responsibility as people leave and aren't replaced. At some point, those who stick around meet their breaking points, and join the ranks of those who have left the field. And so the circle goes round and round.

What does that really look like? On any given day, a school can easily have 12 teachers out, another 2 teachers who left and haven't been replaced yet, and 3 administrators out. And that school will have 4 substitutes show up. So where do the other 10 classes of students go? Schools double and triple up classes and put them in the media center, the cafeteria, the gym. School health assistants, bookkeepers, librarians, and clerks are pulled from their responsibilities to sub in classes. Students lose yet more instructional time when they're already suffering educational deficits, and the teachers sticking it out and staying are held accountable for these losses.

It's not just the teachers who are leaving. It's all support staff, and this includes bus drivers. Like teachers, bus drivers are having to double-up, packing students 3 to a seat while driving combined routes. Students are oftentimes stuck at school for an hour after dismissal before a bus arrives to take them home. My nephews' schools had to pivot back to home-learning because there simply weren't enough bus drivers to take the students to school.

But that's not the main reason people are leaving. 

I have teacher friends with masters degrees who say if it weren't for their spouses, they don't know where they could live because they don't make enough to afford housing on their own. There's something extremely sad about individuals with masters degrees who can't afford the rent by themselves. And every year, they have to fight to get any kind of raise, or to keep the districts from raising their health insurance, or cutting coverage. If we entrust our future generations to teachers and expect them to turn out self-sustaining, educated, productive members of society, we need to give them the tools to do that.

But that's not even the main reason people are leaving.

According to my own unscientific survey of my coworkers, we're leaving because of the ridiculous amount of disruptive and disrespectful behavior from students with absolutely no accountability. Aside from the unruly behavior and disruption, there are the students with zero motivation to learn. I call them the TikTok kids. Their attention span is the length of a Tik Tok video and then they're "bored." So many teachers spend an insane amount of time dealing with behavior issues, and trying to coax kids to just do. their. work. that they don't have time to teach the students who are actually there to learn. It is absolutely draining. I know I personally leave work, mentally exhausted. And there are so very many parents that are just checked out. Those are the good ones. The others condone their child's abominable behavior choices, and try to place the blame on the teacher.

Those not in education might not understand the kind of behavior teachers are dealing with. And of course, this varies from elementary to middle to high school, and from school to school, district to district, and state to state. But I think I can say with absolute certainty that student behavior has gotten much worse over the years, no matter where you are. Here are a couple recent comments I got from teacher friends around the country:

I had a student walk in to class, shout, "'Sup b*tches?!" then proceed to jump on top of a desk and hop from desktop to desktop across the classroom.

I called a student in to my class so I could give her help making up some missing assignments in a class she's failing. She was so mad that I took her out of PE to help her do the work she'd been blowing off. She whipped out her phone, called her mom right then and there in class, and angrily stated, "This lady is making me work instead of going to PE!" From across the room, I could hear her mom's outraged voice through the phone say, "Let me talk to that lady. That's disrespectful!" Wait what? I'm the one being disrespectful here??

I had a student come in already angry.  I asked him to pick his head up and listen to the instructions (after offering all kinds of "cool down" time and options.)  Well, that set him off.  He stood up, flipped my table (others were sitting at it as well), cussed me out including saying that he was going to beat my a**, etc.  The SRO (school resource officer)  had to come and physically restrain him to calm him down and get him out. He was sent back to my class.  Same day.  Same class period. ...with a Dum Dum in his mouth from the SRO. That was almost a career change day for me.

The student behavior coupled with a lack of support from parents and/or administration, all while teachers are stretched thin because they're so short-staffed is what is driving educators away from the profession.

Education was already this big snowball, gathering mass as it rolled along toward a cliff. Covid pushed it over, and now it's on a downhill path, gaining momentum and girth at a staggering rate. But never fear, the powers-that-be are armed and shooting Nerf darts at the mammoth problem cannonballing out of control so I'm sure that will divert its crash course in no time. Either that, or that statistic of 55% of educators thinking of leaving will turn into 55% gone. Poof.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

A Li'l Update

I know I've kinda dropped off the face of the earth. I was getting so annoyed by everyone and everything that I had to step back from all human interaction. (That is, all human interaction except the interaction I need to endure at work since I kind of like getting paid. I mean, if I can't pay my rent, I'll have to live in a van down by the river. And I don't even own a van anymore so essentially, I'd have to live in a compact car down by the river. And that is not appealing.) Anyway, I hit my limit of stupidity and simply couldn't absorb any more so I drifted away from all social media.

So, what's been going on with me, you ask? Let's see . . . 

I learned that the treatment for cancer is worse than the cancer itself. My dad got cancer in his parotid gland. This guy who gets teeth filled without novocaine, and literally never complains of pain of any kind has been in so much pain. Between the throat pain and the gross taste that is omnipresent in his mouth, he hasn't been able to eat for weeks. But he recently finished treatment and is anxiously waiting to feel better, and to start eating again.

I learned that if you complain loudly enough, you can get what you want. Clay, Brooklyn, and I were able to visit my parents in Chicago for Thanksgiving, right before he started chemo and radiation. My dad and I went to pick up my Aunt Vasiliki and my grandmother, Lavonne to bring them out to my parents' house for the day. My grandma was impatient to get out to the car (I mean, I can't blame her! She'd been stuck in her assisted living facility for ages, and she's 100! She's done enough waiting in her life.) Anyway, she was impatient to get out and didn't wait for a nurse to help her, or for me to come inside and walk her out. She ended up falling in the hallway, hitting her head, and getting a giant goose egg. The paramedics took her to the hospital to be checked out since her blood pressure was also sky high. She was MAD! She didn't care about her head or blood pressure; she just wanted to get out and see her family. And she let everyone in the ER know it. "I'm 100 and my granddaughter from Florida is here! You let me out now!"

Anyway, they did let her out and she and I were able to join the rest of the family. I told my grandmother that although I enjoyed spending some one-on-one time with her, the next time I come to visit, we should hang out at home, not in the ER. Or at least pick a hospital with some cute doctors to admire! She agreed.

I learned that I have a new grandson. I haven't seen or talked to Austin, Codi, or Colynn in over a year. I don't even know why. I reread their vitriolic texts to me now and then, looking for some clue as to why they don't have anything to do with me, but to no avail. (They hadn't talked to Savannah and her family in over 2 years, but just recently made amends there which makes me happy.) Anyway, they had another baby right before Savannah had Islah so I have another grandson named Sage. I've never seen him.

I learned that I am way too old and fat to use crutches. At the end of December, I stepped off a curb, heard a pop, and my right knee gave out on me. I was unable to bear weight for a few days.  Apparently, my left knee was feeling jealous of all the fun (you know, ice packs, brace, and steroid shot) that my right knee was receiving so it decided to even things out a bit. While walking out to my car a couple weeks later, my left knee popped and gave out on me. MRIs showed small meniscus tears, considerable bone marrow edema, and little to no cartilage left behind my kneecaps. Walking has become a very painful endeavor. 

I learned, once again, that no matter how hard you try to teach your kids not to act like idiots, sometimes they do anyway. Clay moved out in the middle of the night right before Christmas, and as far as I know, moved in with his girlfriend. He doesn't come around or really talk to anyone anymore.

I learned why people have kids when they're young. Savannah, Ish, and Islah were going to move to Georgia for Ish to accept a job there. Long story short - that didn't happen, thankfully, because I would've missed them way too much. However, they lost their apartment in preparing to move and ended up moving in with me until they're able to find a place. I love being able to see Islah every day. It's amazing how quickly she grows and changes, and I very thankful for this time with her. But lemme tell ya, babies are loud! And crawling babies that like to get into the cat food are exhausting to chase!

I learned all the words to the Spanish versions of every kids' song ever written. Because Ish speaks Spanish, Savannah and Ish speak English and Spanish to Islah so she can grow up being bilingual, which is awesome. To this end, they play songs in Spanish for her, and little gems like Baby Shark run through my head in Spanish on a nonstop loop until I want to stab my eardrums with a sharp stick. Bebé Tiburón do do do-do do . . . 

I'll leave you with a couple pictures and a promise to start writing again because this has GOT to be my last year in education! 

my dad ringing the bell after his last treatment

my grandma after leaving the ER on Thanksgiving

my adorable granddaughter, Islah

Who's Visiting My Blog Right Now?

Home About Dawn Blog Books News & Events Press Kit Contact

Dawn Meehan 2008-. All Rights Reserved.
Site Design by Jones House Creative