I came across the blog post, “I Quit… Because I Deserve Better” that had gone viral. It was from a teacher who decided to walk away from teaching. The author left teaching because she was losing her peace of mind and turning into a person she didn’t want to become. I know the feeling because at the end of last school year I was at a similar crossroad. After a little under ten years in education, things felt different; I questioned my purpose. I knew there was more I could do and people were relying on me to continue the work. Instead of walking away, I stayed the course.
The children we served did not pick their circumstances. They did not choose where they lived or who their parents are. Most of them did not choose their school. Most of their young lives are filled with circumstances they have no control over. They are in desperate need of individuals who believe in them and who they can count on. I think about my students daily who come to school to escape their reality. School is an escape, and often for many, it is the most consistent and structured part of their young lives.
I remember when I first started teaching. I found myself going through the motions. I enjoyed teaching but never really thought much about the students I taught. I worked hard to be the best teacher I could, but I wasn’t teaching for the students. I was teaching to do a good job, but not to make an impact. Although I am not teaching anymore, I do this work for the children. I care more about the impact I have on a child’s life than whether or not I am doing a good job. I wake up and go to work every day as a principal because they deserve the best.
The day to day of the job is stressful, and it does take a lot from me; however, I think about the home environment of many students and worry each time they walk out the door. During weekends, I wonder if they are eating consistently and getting a good night’s rest. I worry over long breaks if they are being cared for and their minds continuing to be nurtured. These thoughts keep me up at night, and I only get peace of mind when I see them walk through the doors again of the school.
The joy of seeing them walk through the door is why I stay. I stay to help my students dream of a better reality. I stay to allow the dreams that my students do have to come true. I see myself as the gatekeeper of dreams. My students’ dreams give me hope for a better future.
I know there are some of you contemplating leaving the profession. I know this work, especially the work of teaching day in and day out, can be tough and something that is mentally draining. I have heard from countless teachers who speak about their joy and love being taken away, but think about the children who cannot walk away from their problems so quickly.
Ultimately, situations are different, and I am not comparing my situation with anyone else. I stay because I believe the children deserve better. They deserve better than adults coming and going in and out of their lives. They deserve educators and teachers who care. If we leave, who replaces us? Oftentimes, it is someone who doesn’t care and doesn’t believe they deserve better.