I have been surprised to see distinguished teachers leaving the profession as the school year starts this year. Teachers who have loved their jobs eagerly searching job postings in other fields of work. Others are leaving their states so that they can keep their credential and take a gap year. What I have heard from a lot of the teachers who are burned out right now is that the students can’t read, they are insulting their teachers, even on the first day of school, and that they can’t sit still.
Even in privileged schools, the students are rebelling and are showing serious lags in learning attainment and teachers are stretched thin just days into the school year. Teachers who have worked hard for student populations who also work hard on school are finding that teaching students who are not able to perform doesn’t feel like teaching, and they don’t know how to progress in lessons when basic skills are lacking.
Having taught in both rough and privileged schools, I have learned that there is definitely an ethos that goes into teaching in one or the other, and that they often don’t mix. Teachers at privileged schools talk about rough incidents when they have a student who won’t stay in his or her desk. Meanwhile, at difficult schools, students are bringing knives to school and teachers have to worry about what color marker they’re using, lest it trigger gang-related hypervigilance. I have written elsewhere about how a teenager threw a desk at another student and he was in the next period without hardly a warning. When this roughness creeps into suburbia style bliss, trouble is brewing and teachers leave.
Chaos is brewing and we’re only a few weeks into the school year.