Surviving Teaching and Finding Joy

Not surprising, the amazing schoolteacher, Jennie, writes of her attitude shift in teaching and her subsequent ascension to perfect preschool teacher. 🙂

A Teacher's Reflections

Times have changed.  Teaching has far more demands than it used to.  Required paperwork, overcrowded classes, and lack of support begins to take its toll.  At first it all seems manageable.  That fire of wanting to teach keeps the motor running.  Then bit by bit, as demands and expectations increase, it becomes more difficult to keep the fire burning.  The love becomes lost.

Teachers are quitting.

Children have changed, too.  Their lives have less (or little) room for play. Most of their waking hours are structured – from school to sports to after school activities.  Oh, and then the homework.  Frankly, homework in the early grades should be reading.  Period.

Children are often coming to school feeling everything from anger to being overwhelmed. They may not know why, they just know they aren’t feeling happy.

Is it any wonder that America’s children are ranked 26th in reading  among the world?

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13 thoughts on “Surviving Teaching and Finding Joy

  1. First of all, kudos to Jennie for her commitment to children and her desire to fulfill her passion by focusing on each individual child. Not every teacher does that. We need more educators with her passion and dedication. Good teachers continuously keep learning and evolving so they can bring their very best each and every day when they walk into that classroom. Obviously, after 36 years as an elementary school teacher, I’ve been there and I respect and appreciate her blog very much. And I agree that each child deserves the opportunity to develop a special bond with his/her instructor.
    However, I don’t agree with everything she stated. Perhaps it is because We might have an age difference and thus some different experiences.
    I actually find the numbers of children in classrooms now quite a bit less than when I began teaching in the early 70’s. The average class then had well over 40 children in it. Team teaching was a big experiment at that time and even how I interned. They put 70 plus children in a large room with two teachers thinking little ones could actually learn that way. Crazy! By the time I retired, a 4th grade class only had 22 children in it. A 3rd grade room, between 18 and 20. What a piece of cake! So the legal numbers of students has decreased significantly. And on field trips we now have a one to ten adult to child ratio.
    Today, Individual students’ needs are much easier to meet with such low numbers. We also have 504 plans, IEP’s, Gifted educational plans, a variety of specialized programs for students with learning disabilities etc. We have had Wonderful advancements in education since the time I first began teaching. My first year I had 45 first graders, some with special needs, one child with a colostomy bag, and I had no specials teachers. There I was, 22 years old, alone in a room with wall to wall kids, a piano, no bathroom and no supplies and expected to do everything! So, I’m not sure I agree about it being a harder job now. It was always hard!
    In the early 70’s I had to be the children’s PE teacher, music and art teacher. We took specific classes in colleges called Art in the elementary school, pE in the elementary school etc. because the majority of states did not provide special teachers for those subjects in the early 70’s.. We didn’t have computers, phones, tv’s in the rooms. Everything was on the teacher. PLUS we ate lunch with our children. We didn’t even get a lunch break.
    I think it was much harder in those days. It was sillier when I retired in 2012. Data was key. But I wrote grants and received thousands of dollars each year for technology, novels, supplies, and could incorporate so many alternatives to my gifted program because I took the initiative to write innovative grants. So yes, we have so many more opportunities now that weren’t available in the past.. I never liked the testing but I personally never let it interfere with my creative teaching. I can’t speak for preschool. Although, I am certified in early childhood education. It just wasn’t my thing, so kudos to Jennie. I did it when my oldest son was in preschool and didn’t care for it at all! But I fell in love with the elementary school curriculum. In any case, a very positive and motivating article that should be read and shared. And thank goodness for preschool teachers like Jennie who take the time to give little ones such a positive experience.

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    1. I DO tend to think Jennie has a rather insulated teaching position where she is. Sounds like you did as well, toward the end.

      I am happy to hear that things have changed for the better the way they did, Lesley. Truly. When I speak with people, they tend to romanticize history. I’ve never been told what classrooms used to be like.

      I also feel that my own children have a spoiled setup. You may be interested to know that the public schools where we used to live were 30 students a class, without aids, with few materials. At the charter school they’re at, they have the best technology, about 25/class, and aides for each grade.

      The IEP and 504 thing is in place, too. Two of my kids have them.

      I’m most grateful for teachers like you or Jennie who are intelligent, and who CARE about the kids. My boys respond the best when they believe the teacher loves them and wishes for them to do well; they act out when they believe differently.

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      1. For now there are specific laws for students that are national as well as state wide. With Betsy Devos, students with certain special needs have already lost a lot of funding and if our current resident in the WH stays there, all of the accomplishments made for creating an equal ground for students with special needs may very well disappear. So that is very disheartening. Hopefully, in 2020 we will get back on track and public education will once again be a priority. I have taught in both private and public school. Both have advantages. The pay for teachers is actually better in public schools because they have a union and government funds help fund money to schools. However, in both cases teachers spend their own pocket money to supplement their classrooms. Affluent areas always have involved parents who purchase wonderful items for their kids’ classrooms. Less wealthy areas don’t have that luxury. Example, my grandchildren live in a lovely area and both are in a gifted program. One of their teachers requested bunk beds to make a reading corner for the kids and my son said in less than a day the teacher got enough money to purchase one. (That is where my grandson goes to read. Right to the top bunk.) It has inspired him to read more than ever!!! But, obviously that wouldn’t happen in a less affluent area.
        However, 504 plans, gifted testing, speech and language testing is nation wide. ANY child may request their home school to test their child for learning disabilities, gifted , speech etc. even if they are in private school. THAT is the law unless this current administration decides to change it. NOT all school have separate programs for those classes but they ARE supposed to have teachers with those credentials who can write an EP or an IEP to meet their individual educational needs somewhere in that school. IT IS THE LAW. If public schools do not provide those opportunities they can actually loose their accreditation. And administrators heads will roll! (Sorry, besides being a gifted teacher I was the Union rep for my school).
        I taught over the years in poor, wealthy, and middle class schools. I loved all the kids wherever I went. I think I just love children and adore teaching. I can see your friend Jennie does as well.

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        1. I self-educated myself on a lot of those laws about 4 years ago because of troubles with my boy. 🙂 I hope they retain the benefits for the special needs kids to some extent; I am bothered to see some kids at school who are basically wandering around with a babysitter.

          And I do not like that affluent areas get more than less affluent. I think it’s just another way people are getting around integration. :/ …while I send my kids to a charter school….

          I don’t know Jennie intimately but have enjoyed reading her posts about teaching for over a year now.


  2. Burnout is so common in professions like these, trying to help children/people in general heal/grow/learn/do or stop x behavior(s). I don’t know what else I wanted to say but that was the main thought that came into my mind after reading this. It’s a really sad reality I’ve found.

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