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I am TIRED! Like MF tired. One thing I find myself continuously working on is finding a healthy work-life balance. But somehow, this year it has seemed impossible. More days than not, I come home completely depleted, shower and get right in bed. There’s a guilt I find myself having, because I spend all day giving so much of myself to other people’s kids that I get home and have little or nothing to give to my own kid. I have found myself repeatedly saying, “THIS CAN’T BE IT.”

As I sat in therapy this Monday, educators get you a therapist if you don’t already have one, I expressed my frustration with not only my job but the education system as a whole. We talked about how so many people in education feel like it’s a setup for failure. While I’m super fortunate to have a principal who actually cares and does check-ins to see how the staff is doing, most educators are working in buildings where there’s so much staff, that they are literally just a number. For them, there isn’t really anyone saying “Hey what do you need” or “what can we do to help you?” 

I’ll preface this by saying this year I have 3 ICT (Integrated Co-Teaching) classes which means 3 of my 5 classes have a mix of general education students and students with some form of learning disability. For clarity, we aren’t talking about autism or severe delays etc, these are students who may process information at a slower pace, who may need things to be read to them, who need some forms of additional support to help them be successful. Generally, there should be an ICT teacher certified to work with that particular population of students in those three classes everyday. However, my ICT teacher left due to personal reasons, so it’s just me in the room. Anyone knows in education, it is extremely hard to find someone in the middle of the year. 

So, as I sat in therapy this past Monday I found myself ranting and rambling about all of the responsibilities I have as a teacher. I have to figure out how I will teach the content, create detailed lesson plans, create worksheets to go with those lesson plans, create some form of scaffolds for my students in the ICT classes (because there’s no ICT teacher there to do it,) create small assessments (maybe 2 questions) to check for understanding before moving on to the next topic at least twice a week, grade those assessments (2 questions per assessment times 100 kids times twice a week= 400 questions,) create larger regents aligned assessments (quizzes and tests,) co-plan with the other teacher who is teaching the same course so that we are on the same page, and contact parents of students who are failing (and boy are there a whole lot of them this year) when most of the numbers we have on file are old or not working. Like it’s absolutely way too much. 

I laugh when people say, teachers have it easy because we get the summers off and breaks throughout the year. Listen, those breaks are what’s keeping your kid’s teacher sane and keeping them from having complete mental breakdowns! So many people are leaving education because the workload is way too much and the expectations oftentimes do not align with the students that are in front of us. 

Covid has had a huge impact on our students. While prior to Covid, teachers across the country have experienced students being below grade level, after Covid those numbers have gone higher and the students have shown to be further below grade level. I can’t tell you the huge number of students we have this year that are in 9th and 10th grade but are at or below a 5th grade level in math. What does a teacher do to get those students to reach an 80 or above on their regents exam that’s at a 10th grade level? I don’t believe in magic, but does anyone have any fairy dust they can sprinkle to make that happen?

Anyone from New York, knows in order to graduate you need to pass a series of Regents exams. These are cumulative exams at the end of core classes (English, Math, Social Studies, and Science) as well as a language course that students were required to pass with 65 or above to show mastery and move on to the next course. Now of course, 65 doesn’t actually show mastery, but that’s what the state says, so fine. Well due to the effects of Covid, the state said hey these students were affected by Covid so let’s give them some grace and if they score above a 50 on their regents and pass the class with at least a 65 then we can allow schools to move them on to the next class and they can graduate with those scores. While it seems great for the student because they would have had enough time to meet those requirements to graduate on time, what happens to those students who are pushed along in a math class and didn’t really understand the basics from the class before? 

To be clear, I’m talking about math because I’m a math teacher and I’m speaking from my experience. While many other classes are stand-alone classes in high school, for example you don't need to understand Living Environment to do well in the next course Earth Science, math is cumulative. Everything you learn in Algebra 1 you absolutely need to have full understanding of to do well in Algebra 2. However, not only do we have all these kids who were pushed along with scoring that 50 but we also have half of our students at or below a 5th grade level. We are then asked questions like “how are you going to go back and remediate or review topics that scholars didn’t do well on, all while still moving forward to teach new content to those same students?” I DON’T KNOW. I REALLY DON’T KNOW.

While I feel bad for myself, I really feel bad for the kids. While they may not know their exact grade level, they know they aren’t “good at math” as they put it. Which really just means nobody took the time with them when they were younger to make sure they understood the basics and had some foundation in math. So now they’re at a point where all these years they have built a house on a unstable foundation, at some point the house is going to fall. Our kids are falling and the expectations of us don’t really give us the opportunity to truly help them. It’s really sad and difficult pill to swallow for sure. WHERE’S THAT FAIRY DUST?

I said all this to say this year, has been probably the hardest year in my 9 years of teaching. I absolutely understand why people are dropping out of education like flies. IT’S JUST TOO MUCH with not enough support. The expectations don’t align with who we have in front of us, and the support just isn’t there. Honestly, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to get any better. 

Educators, parents, students…. I’m really interested in your thoughts. Feel free to comment below (scroll down past the recent posts to comment.)

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Am I the only educator who still gets the first day of school jitters? I mean I’m going into my 9th year of teaching and still find myself rather restless the night before and morning of the first day

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I feel every single word, comma, period and exclamation point in this blog. This career is beating us down and we’re reaching the point where we have nothing left to give. This is why there are SO many posts on IG about ways to pivot a career into teaching into something else. This ain’t it. I feel terribly bad for the kids the most because they are only doing the best they can with the provisions given to them. We do not have the proper resources to support our most vulnerable children. And Liz, my comment is not only directed towards those with special needs. Let’s not forget our scholars who do not have the command of the English language…


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