Is This What Teaching At a Public School Is Like?

I teach in a small, rural district full of family members, previous students and cliques.  The worst bullies in the school are some of the adults.  For five years I've navigated my way through these adult issues - focusing on the needs of my students to get me through and give me hope.

I have eleven years of experience in my field and have never received less than an excellent on my reviews - until this year.  Suddenly, I am being cast as an ineffective teacher and nothing I can do seems to change this fact.  For the last six months I have documented my *** off and made myself sick trying to figure out what it is the administration wants.  This has not worked.

On Thursday, I am going in to resign.  I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone - nothing makes sense.  I've given up attempting to vindicate myself and I wish only to leave as amicably as possible.  I am certain I would win if I tried to sue, but there is little point.  I don't want to stay where I am not wanted.

I've watched something similar to this happen to three other teachers and our curriculum coordinator and I feel guilty for doing nothing, but what could I have done?

Two teachers were bullied and harassed until they left.  The curriculum coordinator has been "dismissed" from helping me and will retire early at the end of this year - she never wants to work in education again.  One teacher left of her own accord after her first year because she believed the administration had lied to her when they stated that academics were important.  Now it's my turn.

My students are passing the state tests (95% in reading and 97% in writing).  I've created after school study programs and a creative writing group and I am not getting paid for either.  I voluntarily gave up my planning period for one semester in order to teach a class for at-risk teens because the only other option was to, according to my principal, "stick them in the back of the room and give them busy work".  This is the first year that I've had a text book so for the last 5 years I've created or sought out all of my own materials (with the support and help of the curriculum coord.).  When I asked for input on how to handle discipline problems in a notoriously difficult class, the principal gave me an informal assessment instead of helpful feedback.  This informal assessment is the first he has of me despite observing my class for the last three years.  It is being used as the major evidence against me.  I could write pages of similar experiences, but there is no point.

As a result of this situation, I don't think I ever want to work for another public high school again.  However, I can't imagine doing anything other than teach my subject and work with teens.  I don't know what to do and the future terrifies me.
acoustickitty acoustickitty
36-40, F
3 Responses Jan 22, 2008

I can't trace anything more recent than 2010 on you,so I wonder what might have happened to you - and your teaching calling.<br />
Yes,funny how a noble profession like teaching should attract these bullies.Your opening sentence is an exact disc<x>ription of the circumstances my wife and I had to work in for 14 years.We never raised our voices to fight back but we reported them.The day when we left the principle had nothing better to say (in front of his crownies) that he didn't know us because we always fought with him.This from a man who never even bothered to greet the odinary teachers and would never discuss anything in his office.He always wanted to bring up everything in meetings where his friends would rush to his support, never mind what the merrit of your argument(s) might have been.<br />
Yes,I am VERY happy that I am done with this profession.It is nothing like it promised to be and all I got from all that overload was a heart attack,a cholesterol count of 12 mmol/dl and Hypertension 200/110 at one stage.On top of that my sugar was at 26 mmol/dl when I retired.Now a diabetic too. (my parents both lived to the age of 84).<br />
But I know it was what God wanted me to do and I am still very interested in helping children.

I realise this story was written three years ago and I wonder what you are doing with your life now. Unfortunately, teaching is one of those professions that can and does attract workplace bullies. Your problem is, you did your job well and everyone knew it. Bullies cannot stand to be outshone. Yes, there is only one option in the end - to leave. Tragically, it is the children who suffer for the loss of good staff. but unless and until procedures of accountability come in for Principals, administrators will continue to get away with this kind of career wrecking behaviour.

Wow,you sound like a great teacher in a difficult situation.Your students are lucky to have you for a teacher.It's too bad they might lose you because of a few idiots.I hope you find a school where you can teach your students in peace.