Being “stuck” is certainly not how anyone would choose to describe any situation of their life. Stuck in traffic, stuck in a relationship, stuck in a career. Yet for so many teachers, this is exactly what comes to mind when asked how we feel about the profession we once loved. Trapped. Caught. Stuck in a situation because we are highly qualified and overpaid. Stuck in a situation where politicians, and marketing companies continue to dictate what is taught in our classrooms. Stuck in a situation where we are constantly being given conflicting messages. We know that children are not all cut from the same cloth, that we need to reach individual students by differentiating our instruction. Why then are we asked to assess them all the same? It makes no sense, but as teachers we have no voice, irregardless of the fact that we are the ones in the trenches with these students. We are the ones being held accountable on many fronts: NCLB, teacher evaluations, MCAS, CC, etc. We are in a word, stuck. Of the nine veteran teachers I have spoken with at my school, every single one would leave this profession. Every single one.
I’m sure at this very moment there are people reading this (I can only hope) who angrily scoff at this post. People who are retorting that we should leave, that no one is stuck who doesn’t want to be, that perhaps we are selfish and lazy. After all, teachers do have the best hours, they have summers off, and like today, the occasional snow day. Believe me, I’ve heard the arguments. To the naysayers, I have neither the energy, nor the desire to defend my hours both in and out of the classroom. To know most teachers is to know the depth of our devotion to this profession. Which is why being stuck is such a sad place to be as a teacher. We are fully dedicated to the children in our charge. It is solely for our kids that we do in fact stay “stuck”. We have not given up on them, though many have given up on us. Apparently for all of our dedication and years of service we can be easily and more cheaply replaced. Ironically, should teachers ever get back some of the many principles lost in recent years, (autonomy, decision-making, planning time, authentic assessment, curriculum design) there is no doubt in my mind that every teacher would no longer feel trapped, caught, or stuck.