In high school I had an English teacher who would correct students who used the word “done” when they completed an assignment. Her reply would be: “Turkeys are done; you are finished.” It’s silly that I remember such a ridiculous statement but it does serve a purpose with where I am at in my career.
My teaching career lasted 13 years, one of which was unpaid maternity leave. Out of those 13 years, I taught in 2 districts (urban and suburban), at 4 separate schools, for 9 different principals. I only changed districts because I was furloughed.
Being furloughed in the district I started in meant they picked your name out of a hat to determine your employment. This was done in a room full of teachers who were anxiously waiting and beyond terrified how they were going to support their families if their name got called. It did not matter if you were a “good” teacher, how much time you spent on lessons, or if you consistently showed up to work on time and did your job.
I remember them calling my name. I remember how angry I was and how much it hurt. I put so much time into my lessons, into my work for my students and they easily terminated my position like it was nothing. I was tenured when this happened; tenure does not save you. It did, however, allow me to be offered my position back after a couple of years of teaching in another district. I chose to go back, not because I loved the district, but because I liked the students and fellow teachers.
From there, the school years continued to get drastically worse, and then the Pandemic hit. Teachers have always been expected to go above and beyond, but then in March 2020 they were asked to do even more. I really thought the Pandemic would highlight all the duties teachers have that are taken for granted, but it did not. I kept hoping the education field would get better, but it did not.
I felt overworked, under appreciated, and underpaid prior to the pandemic. After the pandemic, I knew it was over. I could not step back into that building. An environment that didn’t give a sh*t about you or the students. I knew I was done.
Being treated like sh*t...I’m done.
Working outside the classroom to prep lessons and grade assessments, which in return caused me to miss out with my family...I’m done.
Getting absolutely miserable on Sunday nights because of the week ahead...I’m done.
“Turkeys are done; you are finished.” To me, finished means complete/accomplished and you can move forward. Done means more roasted, dried out, life sucked out of you.
I want to be able to say I am finished with teaching at public schools, but I definitely feel done. I was put in the environment too long and the livelihood was sucked out of me.
Everything happens for a reason though, right? If I didn’t get furloughed from that district I never would have made connections in another district and ultimately fall in love with (Hot) Yoga. I know I was meant to be a teacher, but being a teacher does not always mean standing in front of a room full of children and having the State tell you what to teach. Currently I am teaching yoga/fitness classes and tutor math on the side. I am happy. It is extremely better for my health (physically/mentally/emotionally) to teach what I think is important/necessary and to feel valued and appreciated. So for now I am DONE with public education but I am not FINISHED with teaching.
Yes, I know the pandemic affected everyone. This story is not meant to gain pity; I HATE receiving pity. It’s annoying hearing people say “People just don’t want to work anymore.” No, people don’t want to be treated like sh*t. Childcare, teaching, healthcare most of them are treated like sh*t even though they do so much that even doubling/tripling their salaries still wouldn’t be sufficient enough.