Those are such distateful words, aren’t they? Those five words compose one of the worst phrases in the world for a teacher. They make my mouth feel like I accidentally bit down on some aluminum foil. Gross.
But that’s what happened to me last year. I wrote about it some, but I was in the middle of it and it was still painful. I also didn’t want [and don’t want] to unnecessarily slander my former employer. I think, however, that this story is important to know.
It was my first teaching job. There had been some PD sessions that made me question the direction of the school and I knew I really didn’t want to work there much longer, but they got to it first.
It was a small private school, a school that didn’t pay enough for me to pay my bills and barely offered benefits. I taught 130+ students during six classes a day. I had a school desktop that ran Windows 2000 and a classroom that had corrugated tin walls. For the first year and a half the air conditioning didn’t work and my room would get to be 84 degrees. With 27 [deodorant challenged] sixth graders. I wouldn’t have sent my kids there as a parent.
The details of why I was non-renewed aren’t that important [it was for philosophical and theological reasons, primarily]. You need to know, however, that a 13-year veteran in my division disagreed with our bosses in my dismissal and she was fired. Another teacher resigned for many reasons, but one of them was that he didn’t think they should have fired me. Obviously this was a big deal.
I remember thinking that this was it, my career was over. I knew I loved teaching, I knew I had at least some gifting, I knew I loved my students, but I didn’t know if I’d ever get to do it again. After all, if THIS little dinky school didn’t want me, who would?
Fast forward a year later.
I teach at a school that is twice the size of my other school. We have won more academic and athletic awards than I can count. I have a supportive principal, a hilarious department, and a wonderful mentor teacher. I have a Smartboard and built-in media center in my room, access to any professional development I’d like, and air conditioning that works perfectly. I have a couch in my room!
Our school is going 1-to-1 next year, and has spent the last few years researching how to transition effectively. There is quick and sufficient IT support, there is time given in the school day for us to train, and innovation is encouraged. I love my students so much and they are a joy to teach.
I could talk about how great my school is all day long. I hope my kids get to go to a school as wonderful as this one. I have no desire to leave or go anywhere else, even if I don’t love the location. I know almost anywhere else would be a step down professionally.
I remember thinking that my dismissal from my first school was a black spot and no one would want me. Even though I felt justified in my actions, I feared no school would look past that. But they did, and it was even better than I imagined.
If you’re in the same position - if you end up with those metallic-tasting words in your mouth and that sinking feeling that you’ll never be able to love students again - take heart. If I can get dismissed from a grade D school and end up excelling at a grade A school, so can you. Keep looking, keep being passionate, and keep up hope. There’s a better school out there that would be grateful to have a teacher like you.
[and in case you were wondering, my contract was renewed this year]
I was also non-renewed once — for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with me or my teaching. It was heart-breaking for me. But, years later, I’m much better off. :-)
Instead of having guests sign a book or a picture this couple had guests sign Jenga blocks with their well wishes and support. Every time they play the game they will have these super personal blocks to use. It’s was very cute and sweet. That was until someone just wrote “BABIES!” on their block.
This might happen at Jbizz’s wedding. She is the Jenga QUEEN!
math-girl replied to your post: I think it is a mud mask and bubble bath type of night. YES. If only I had a plug for my drain in my bathtub… I hope you do!
Oh dear. Every teacher that likes bath should have one.
Will you let me buy you one?