Spring is springing, folks. It’s the season of rebirth and new growth, the end of the coldness and darkness of winter, and the turning the corner to brighter, warmer days.
Norse mythology has the concept of the Fimbulwinter, a terrible, endless winter that precedes Ragnarok, the end of the world, where the world darkens, food supplies run low and death is all but inevitable.
Coming out of the dreadfulness of COVID-19, such dour folktales feel kind of relatable, huh?
One thing I associate with spring, probably due to my years as a high school teacher, is graduation. I only taught for five years, though it felt much, much longer than that, but those five years had quite an impact on me, and on the students I taught.
My Instagram feed is full of college graduation photos from kids I taught as freshmen during my first two years on the job. On Memorial Day, I’ll be attending a high school graduation from one of the last groups of kids I had the chance to work with. One of the best parts of teaching was that feeling of pride, watching kids succeed and achieve. Graduations were always an emotional day for me.
Graduation is the day when teachers get to look around and see the fruits of their labors, the day that makes all the hard work worth it. At least, in theory. A recent survey from the Colorado Education Association found that 40% of teachers are considering leaving the profession after this school year. That’s significant, even in a profession where they tell you in college that 50 percent of new teachers quit in their first five years.
I was certainly part of that statistic, and I had my reasons. The workload was incredible, the stress was overwhelming, the parents were difficult. Also — if I’m being completely honest — I wasn’t the best teacher in the world. My innate personality quirks that predispose me towards a career in journalism make me pretty insufferable in just about any other career field.
I tried really hard though, and leaving the profession was incredibly disappointing. I felt like a failure, which was devastating for me, a neurotic overachiever. Ultimately though, I think I left just in time. I can’t imagine teaching during a pandemic, and I did my share of at-home teaching my own kids during remote learning, putting my education degree to use. I have nothing but respect for my former colleagues, and I certainly understand why many are choosing to leave the profession.
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately watching local school board meetings, and I think folks who are concerned about the future of public education do the same. Public education and school boards, despite being nonpartisan, are political entities, and political battles are being waged during the public comment periods in school boards across Colorado.
At the risk of editorializing, I would suggest that you pay attention.
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