Throwback “Response to Teachers Quit Principals, Not Schools”

I was beginning to write a new note on Facebook before I noticed FB is going to eradicate the Notes section. I found this in the drafts and it was going to be deleted, so I thought I’d post it here.

*This was originally written on March, 21, 2017, but I decided to wait to post it until officially ending my time with my previous school district*I promised myself I wouldn’t think about school over spring break, but many of my FB friends from other states are back in session after having their break last week, so school is on my mind. In particular, I am thinking about what happens next. I made a conscious choice to not return to my current job for the next school year. There were many factors that contributed to this decision including the long commute and my perception of the level of support from administration. With my impending departure growing closer and closer, I’ve spent much of this school year savoring the experiences at my beloved school. My heart breaks at the thought of leaving such great kids and such a wonderful school. I have grown SO MUCH in these past three years at my current placement and I know that I if I were to stay I would experience exponential growth. The fact remains, however, that I can’t stay. I thought perhaps the administration was the main reason I was leaving (we have had a few major negative run-ins) and that made me feel very uncomfortable. I don’t like the idea of throwing away a good thing because of 1 person…that doesn’t fit into my perception of who I am as a person and as a professional.The one thing I pride myself on is (eventually) realizing that all people I have negative run-ins with are human. They make mistakes. They have flaws. They are imperfect…just like me. My main problem, however, is that I automatically assume that people who are in positions of power are there because they are qualified for the job and know better than I do concerning their job description. These past few years with politics in the US and NM being what they are, I have realized that my perception of authority is very naïve. Governors don’t always have the people’s best interest at heart. Presidents aren’t completely unbiased. Principals don’t always understand what a teacher’s job is. Those are just facts of life and I have three different choices: I could spend my time lamenting over that fact or being upset by it, I could fight back, or I could just ignore it. At different points in my career I have chosen to do all of the above in regards to the aforementioned facts of life. I spent my first year of teaching complaining about the state of education. I spent my second year thinking about what I can do to change it. And this third year of teaching, I have actually made an effort to figure out what I can reasonably do to help change it including participating in rallies and communicating with representatives. As far as the Presidency goes…well…I’m currently lifting that up in prayer. Lots of prayer. The Principal fact is an interesting one. I believe in my heart that a principal should want what is best for the STUDENTS, not just for the school. And in wanting what is best for the students, they should want what is best for the teachers because our job is literally all about doing what is best for the students. I like to believe that throughout my career my administration will have that view point, but it is silly to think that will actually happen. But again-they are just human. Putting someone in a position of power doesn’t automatically make them a good or bad person. It might bring some of those specific qualities to light, but I don’t believe it completely changes a person. But-I digress (as I often do). My point is: I am not quitting because of my principal. I know that I will have good bosses and not-so-good bosses throughout my life. If I quit a job every time I disagreed with a boss or felt like we didn’t see eye to eye on important matters, I would be eternally flitting from job to job. I am quitting because I don’t like the qualities I am showing while responding to those differences with my principal. My administration holds a lot of power over my job, but zero power over me as a human being. I control my emotions. I control my responses to hardships and disagreements. I am in charge of me. And right now, I am not liking who I am. I spend a lot of time brooding over the things that I know I should be able to, but cannot, change at work. I dread confrontation because I know that unless I talk and act a certain way, nothing I say will be taken seriously…and even then, it’s often passed over. I find myself thinking very negatively of my administration and find it difficult to speak to them in a calm and dispassionate manner. Instead of continuing to find new ways to “go with the flow” and “let things roll off my back” I am trying to make them see my point (which has data to prove it makes sense…) in such a way that is causing tension between us. I am trying to be the teacher I want to be, to grow the program I want to grow, but I am going about it in the wrong way.If I stay, I will grow. I will learn to deal with my problems. I will smile and nod and find ways to communicate clearly without being viewed as disrespectful and insubordinate. Who knows, I might even become a huge supporter of my administration. I will grow, but I won’t grow in the way that I want to grow. I am willing to do hard things. I am willing to grow in unexpected ways. But I am not willing to do that at the expense of my own personal life. I am a teacher, but I am also a human being like principals and governors and presidents. I am not leaving because my principal is some monster who needs to be slain. I am leaving because I am a human being who needs more time with her family. I am leaving because I am a human being who doesn’t like the way she is responding to her superiors and who (after her commute) simply doesn’t have the energy to put in the work needed to fix that. I am leaving because I feel that I have gotten all the positive growth possible from my very first job and I want to leave remembering that positive growth, not thinking about all the negative stuff.I will ALWAYS be grateful for this first teaching job. It has tested me and proved to me that I am a music teacher to the core. My administrators have encouraged me and supported me to the best way they know how to. My music department head has believed in me, supported me, and gone to bat for me when I needed it. I have come to realize that I am not quitting my Principal, I am turning away from a road that has career burnout, personal burnout, and relationship problems at the end or along the way. I am choosing myself. And that’s completely acceptable.

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