Saturday, April 13, 2013

Why I Stay

My friend Beth Shaum asked recently if I would share why I stay in the classroom. It seems our retention rate has become comparable to the divorce rate in this country. 50% of teachers leave the classroom within their first five years of teaching. I’d be willing to bet the number of veteran teachers leaving the classroom is increasing. Why is this? I think we could point to a number of factors.

Increases in…
Federal involvement in education
Standardized testing
Pressures to raise test scores
Disrespect towards teachers from students and parents
Added curriculum
Students’ schedules outside of the classroom

And there is so much more. I don’t think every change in education has been negative – but sometimes those changes that are negative seem to pile up. It can make the most experienced teacher feel defeated, insecure, lost. No wonder new teachers are fleeing our profession. So, I’ve given it a lot of thought. Why do I stay in this profession? What makes teaching something I would choose to go into again in a heartbeat?

I am so grateful to teach in the district that I do. While I feel beaten down by outside forces, I have strong support here. A wonderful community, a wonderful place. But if I can feel the stress, what must others in other districts feel like? How are they struggling? With that thought in mind, I thought about Beth’s question again. Why do I stay?

I stay for my students.
They make me excited to come to school.
They make me laugh multiple times each day.
They keep me young.

I stay for my own children.
To show them what finding your joy looks like.
To show them what it means to work hard.
To be an example of dedication.

I stay because I will not be defeated.
I will teach how I believe is right.
I will teach how I know is necessary for growth.
I will not let my students become numbers on a sheet.

I stay because I love reading and writing.
It is my passion.
It is who I am.
It is what saved me as a student.

I stay because a teacher is who I am.
If I wasn’t in the classroom, I would still teach.
If I wasn’t in the classroom, I would feel incomplete.
If I wasn’t in the classroom, I would feel an incomprehensible loss.

And so I stay.
Yet, resolved.

Our profession can weather this storm.
We will.
We will become stronger for it.
And when we do,
I will be where I am right now.
In the classroom, with my students.
I will stay.

Please take a few minutes to watch Beth’s video. It speaks to why so many of us stay.