First Five Years

The statistic is that most new teachers quit in the first 5 years. There are many reasons for this from administration to the zoo animals some people call children. Teachers are being asked to do more with less each day. From stagnant salaries and facilities to broken buildings and broken homes teachers have much to over come.

I recently learned that in the USA third grade students take a standardized test and the results of that test tell policy makers where to build prisons and how big to make them. They don’t tell policy makers where there is need in schools, where they may need money for meal programs or new technologies or anything else, these tests tell them where to build their prisons.

It’s better in Canada but many of the same problems exist. Money is taken out of schools everyday and put somewhere else, usually the pockets of the politicians. They also take money from public schools and put them in private schools. There are many articles that can explain it better than I can and I have provided links to them.

The school I worked at in Japan had a resource problem. Many of the resources I used I brought from home, took from the internet, or made. For this I would need to make copies but the copier was often out of paper or toner and they were not buying anymore for the week. Then the students were forced to write out the problems in their notebooks and solve them.

Also at my school in Japan there would be problems with admin changing things with little to no warning and even less input from teachers. Mid year they changed the curriculum level that each grade taught. Now my grade 3 class was learning grade 4 materials and I didn’t have the right textbooks or resources.

Other problems can come from hostile or passive aggressive admin. If they are not solving problems or even worse are creating some of the problems it can really turn people off and they will leave the profession.

Depending on where in the world you teach it could be the parents or even the students that have teachers running for their lives. Some students are wonderful because they listen, they try, they get it, they’re witty, they have many great qualities. Then there are the kids who don’t care. You try to talk to them, to find out what you can do to help but they just don’t care. They maybe mean, aggressive, combative. It’s not their fault, they’re kids but the discipline needs to happen at home as well as at school.

Without parent support teaching becomes even harder. I have had parent tell me I am responsible for 95% of their child’s grades and upbringing. Where would a parent even get such a ridiculous number. Your child is at school for 7 hours a day or less. I have contact with them for 4-5 hours of those 7. I also have 24 other students to teach and help. If you think that I have 5×60=300minutes with the students and maybe 100-150 of those minutes are whole group instruction 300-100=200 and 200/24= 8minutes and 20seconds each day. If I am the one with 95% of the responsibility then I should be spending 95% of the time with the child, so I assume you are spending about 41seconds a day with your child. If you can’t tell that comment is one that really stuck with me.

The other thing I hear a lot from parents, especially here in Kuwait is why not perfect marks? Why a C on the report card and not an A? Why did he fail this test?  I pay good money to be here and my child should get good marks. It boils down to that for many people. It takes so much energy to explain to parents that I could give the students all A’s that would be easy, other departments do it. I would never have a complaint to deal with. I let parent know I won’t do that. I will not lie to them in that way. This is what grade your child deserves and I am happy to let you know where they need improvement so they can work on it at home as well as at school.

In fact this year with new admin in the high school come of those inflated grades were brought down and parents were shocked, their child had never gotten such a low grade before. The teachers had to explain to admin the students had never deserved good marks but they were handed out under the old regime.

I have grown tired of the dust, dirt, and dirty politics. I am ready to return to Canada and see if that makes me feel better about teaching. If not maybe I will be just another statistic, another teacher who couldn’t make it past her first five years. Maybe things will go great and I will remember why I became a teacher and survive to help educate and inspire the next generation.

One thing I did survive was International Day. Today we learned about Mexico.

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