Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Confession

I have been teaching for 28 years.  I have a whole list of laurels I could share with you.  There are amazing accomplishments over the years that I am very proud of.  At one point in my life a sticker chart would have been my confession.  (I remember when I came to that realization - it was a very long time ago.)

So what then?  I must confess, if only to admit it to myself, that this last year I gave up.  I'm not sure exactly when it happened.  And once I realized it, it felt like it was too late to fix it.  It was the most frightening thing to ever happen to me professionally.

I am the only full-time Kindergarten teacher in our building.  We have a part time classroom as well (all day every other day).  The person in that spot is typically a new teacher who has not been able to find a full time position.  And once they do find a full time position, they are gone.  Sometimes even in the middle of the year.  These new teachers come in with wonderful ideas, but also need a lot of help and guidance.

It was also my third year with a Principal who did not appreciate my strengths, had no experience with primary education, and thought the best way to motivate the staff was to always point out what was lacking.

This last year I had the most challenging group of learners I have ever had in all my years of teaching. They tested my philosophy and beliefs about educating young learners at every turn of my head.  They exhausted my bag of classrooms tricks by the end of September with no effect.

It did not take long after the year started for me to realize I was in trouble.  I was in need of collegial support.  I unabashedly asked.  I asked the Gr. 1-2 multi-age teachers in our building.  I asked my Principal.  I asked our C&I Director.  I asked a former principal who is still in the district.  I asked other Kindergarten teachers from other buildings.  Responses varied from no response to shrugging shoulders to an empathetic head nod.  But no help came.

And I gave up.  I gave up on myself and I gave up on my students.  It was a horrible long year.  We did manage to have some good memories and I know the children learned.  But that was not me teaching.  I don't know who that was... But she sure could do all that accountability stuff - even without a heart!

When I gave up I lost my passion for my child-centered, holistic, inquiry based, context/meaning centered philosophy of education.

So I am fighting my way back.  Kinderchat was the first buoy I found.  Literally an answer to prayer.   I had to go over my Principal's head to get permission to go to a PreK-K conference.  The presenters were not great, but spending two days with teachers who do nothing but work with young learners like I do was a huge help.  I am trying to focus on real and meaningful things for Fall.

My greatest fear is that the difficulties of last year will still be there when I get back in August.  Everyone tells me not to worry.  That I will have a new batch of kids.  We are getting a new Principal.  But I know one part of the equation will still be there:  me.


  1. First of all, welcome to the world of blogging. I look forward to following your posts. I am so glad you discovered Kinderchat, I know that they will be a great source of support. Remember that you have a pretty cool group of PreK teachers (special ed and general ed) down the hallway from you if you ever want to come and visit! Even having lunch with us every once in awhile might be helpful. We are always sharing struggles and triumphs in that short half hour that are very specific to early childhood. We laugh, cheer, and sometimes cry but are there for one another. We would love to have you join us. Thanks for sharing that honest post, I hope the rest of your summer is wonderful, relaxing and rejuvenating.

    1. Thank you for suggesting kinderchat at whatever training it was you were giving!

      Why did I not think of ESFE, ECSE!!! Duh! Sometimes it seems like the hallway that separates us is a chasm! Thank you so much for the idea/invitation! I will make connections in the fall ASAP!!!

  2. Admitting your tough year is so brave! I admire your honesty!

    Being aware of what was tough for you is going to help you get over the hump. It sounds like you have some support now, even if it's mainly virtual support. That is going to be helpful as you try to change things next year.

    Good luck next year! I hope it's a much better year than the past.

  3. My confession post is still on the drawing board - coming tomorrow hopefully. But I identify with your post. The past year was a hard year for me. It was my first year in the public school classroom...changing careers in midlife. And I did things that definitely do not jibe with my personal philosophy. Kinderchat is great and I teach 1st grade. (1stchat is good, too!)

    Stay connected online. We'll all be here to cheer you on.

  4. We've all been there. Teaching is a taxing life and is near impossible to keep it together without support. Breathe and use these new connections you are building to help you next year. :) Thanks for sharing so candidly!

  5. I think most of us who have been teaching for years have had times (for a variety of reasons) that we lose, can't find, don't have the energy to teach with passion. We go on auto pilot. And it sounds like you are building strength to fight back. Cheering you on.