A former kindergarten school teacher posted a scathing Facebook post a couple of weeks ago explaining in no small detail why she felt it was necessary to quit teaching after 12 years in the industry.
In a now-viral Facebook post, the 34-year-old details precisely what drove her away from teaching— and what she believes is causing other perfectly qualified teachers to run from their jobs “like their hair is on fire.”
The filter comes off now..I think it's easier for people to believe that I left teaching because of the lousy pay. ...Posted by Jessica Gentry on Thursday, June 13, 2019
“I think it’s easier for people to believe that I left teaching because of the lousy pay,” writes Gentry. “It was easier for my former HR director to believe it was because I found something that I was more passionate about. Some would allow them to assume that… let them be comfortable in their assumptions because your truth may lead to discomfort of others. Well… I’m not some. That ain’t me.”
The first reason Gentry lists has to do with the tired excuse that “the kids have changed.” Not only is this blatantly false—”PARENTING has changed. SOCIETY has changed,” she writes—it also places the blame of behavioral and emotional problems on the children themselves rather than on their parents.
The old excuse “the kids have changed”. No. No friggin way. Kids are kids. PARENTING has changed. SOCIETY has changed. The kids are just the innocent victims of that. Parents are working crazy hours, consumed by their devices, leaving kids in unstable parenting/coparenting situations, terrible media influences… and we are going to give the excuse that the KIDS have changed? What did we expect them to do?
Kids behave in undesirable ways in the environment they feel safest. They test the water in the environment that they know their mistakes and behaviors will be treated with kindness and compassion. For those “well behaved” kids–they’re throwing normal kid tantrums at home because it’s safe. The kids flipping tables at school? They don’t have a safe place at home. Our classrooms are the first place they’ve ever heard ‘no’, been given boundaries, shown love through respect. Cue “the kids have changed” 🙄.
And even though we know bad behavior comes from a lack of attention, and the failure to cultivate emotional intelligence, schools are still adamant about using technology “because it looks good” on the school’s website.
In the midst of all of this… our response is we need to be “21st Century” schools. 1 to 1 student to technology. Oh. Okay. So forget the basics of relationship building and hands on learning. Kids already can’t read social cues and conduct themselves appropriately in social settings… let’s toss more devices at them because it looks good on our website. During an interview, one division asked me “how are you with technology? That’s important to us”. Uhhh… I hear Bobo the chimpanzee is pretty tech savvy… I consider myself pretty great with kids 🙄.
Gentry acknowledges that while technology is an important and worthwhile skill to learn for both students and teachers, technology training turns out to be a colossal waste of time.
And since our technology approach doesn’t seem to be working, teachers must need more training. So take away two planning periods a week. And render that time utterly worthless when it comes to ADDING to the quality of the instruction. Just this year, a new math assessment was introduced for K teachers. We had to attend a training on a school day (time missed with students) then it took us THREE WEEKS to administer it… one on one… to 21 students. Such. A. Waste. All of the info I could have told you about them without taking away from precious instructional time.
On top of everything, Gentry explains how teachers are expected to play the role of customer service employee rather than childcare experts.
Instead of holding parents accountable… and making them true partners, we’ve adopted a customer service mindset. I’ve seen the Facebook rants about attendance and getting “the letter”.
Well, here’s the thing… I can’t teach your child if he’s not in school 🤷♀️. I was cussed out by parents who wanted to attend field trips but missed the THREE notes that went home–and when they did attend a trip, sat on their phone the entire time. I’ve had parents stand me up multiple times on Conference Days then call to tattle on me when I refused to offer an after school option. I’ve had parents tell me that I’m not allowed to tell their child ‘no’…
All of these school system shortcomings led to Gentry’s “mental and physical health [being in] jeopardy every single day.”
My mental and physical health was in jeopardy every.single.day. Knowing that your kids need and deserve more than they’re getting. Sitting in one meeting after another, begging for more support, only to be told ‘don’t lose sleep over them’… when you LOVE your kids and are PASSIONATE about your mission… these messages tear you apart. Watching them come in… dirty clothes… chaos at home… and knowing they need more than you can give them in a classroom of 21, with less and less support, multple languages spoken, several different disabilities… it breaks you. We become emotional eaters. We become couch potatoes to zone out. We become so short fused that our families suffer.
She decided to start with by focusing on her own child and family, and promises that she is still advocating for kids.
I finally realized… you can’t save them all. You can’t even help 21 if you aren’t healthy yourself. If your mental and physical health aren’t a focus, you aren’t even good for the 21. . I left my retirement fund… my paid sick leave (46 days left on the table, unpaid). I didn’t leave for better pay. . I decided to start with my 1 at home… and work to help other mommas be able to show up for their ones at home.
Because… I really do believe it starts there ❤ I found something that allows me to impact the environments that those 21 go home to. I found something that I can make an impact with… that doesn’t leave my tank empty, rendering me useless for others. . I may have left the classroom… but I am still advocating for those kiddos. It just looks different now 😘
Gentry’s post quickly went viral—sitting at at over 265,000 reactions, 215,000 shares, and over 833 comments on Facebook at the time of writing, and resonated with parents, former and current teachers, and administrators alike.
Gentry said to Yahoo Lifestyle: “When kids are struggling with home life, poverty, abuse… the things they do and say – it takes a toll on you mentally. I carried all of that home with me. My daughter deserved better. I was causing her trauma by taking on theirs. I knew I couldn’t keep bringing the worst ‘me’ home to the ones I loved.”