Today

moon

I enter my home, my hands overflowing with all of my end of year stuff. It’s not enough that you have to do report cards, student records, and everything else for the end of the year, but I take it upon myself to do a special present for all my kids too.

Because I don’t have enough on my plate, and I don’t spend enough money on my kids as it is.

So my hands are overflowing. Things are trying to fall out of the teacher bag over my shoulder, and I set it all down. Because really, that’s not what I’m thinking about.

Today I lost my  job.

There. There it is in print. Today I lost my job.

Today I lost my job. Today.I.Lost.My.Job. I lost my job. I lost my job I lost my job I lost my job oh my God I LOST MY JOB.

I have suspected this day was coming; I’ve seen the writing on the wall. And even with my undercover status, I’m not the person the administration’s looking for, and I know that. But I wanted the choice to leave to be mine, and I’ve been trying to make it mine. But no one would call back. No one would return an email. And I was starting to resign myself to the fact that leaving wasn’t going to be an option.

And now leaving is the only option.

Because they told me so.

The thing is, I know I’m not a horrible teacher. I’m not the world’s best teacher, but I’m a pretty damn good teacher. And my kids leave my class knowing a lot more than ABCs and 123s. And I’ve got several years’ worth of students in that building to prove that.

But…

That’s not the way the game works. It’s about politics. It’s about who you’re friends with, and who you’re not friends with.

Standing up for children is irrelevant.

Caring about children is irrelevant.

Today I lost my job.

Today I also got the information about how my summer paychecks will work. Except mine won’t work that way for me because I lost my job. And I got a letter that tells how long my health insurance lasts. And it really sunk in that this could be it. These next few days could be the last days that I’m a teacher. The job market isn’t good. I’m now in a class where I’m too expensive to be hired, like I’m cattle at the market. My human capital isn’t worth it.

So this might be it. And while part of me is really like maybe this should be it, maybe I should get another job, I don’t know what I would do. I don’t even know how I would go about it. And for God’s sake, what would I do with all of this teacher stuff? Oh my God.

So the night that you find out you’ve lost your job, obviously what you should do to feel better is go back to your classroom and start tearing it down. Start taking down all those things you’ve had since the beginning of your teaching career that you use every year, in every classroom you’ve ever had, no matter what school, what state, what city. Those things have been carried with you. Maybe this was their last go round. It’s hard to tell. Maybe they won’t be used again. Maybe they will. But maybe they won’t.

I filled my car tonight. I’m going to fill my car for the next few nights. Because I’ve got to take everything with me. And everything is a lot.

There have been times today where I’ve been very matter-of-fact, and there have been times where all of a sudden it just hits me in a wave, and there’s something in my eye, and I just happen to need a tissue.

Today I lost my job.

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32 thoughts on “Today

  1. I received my non-renewal about a month ago. I taught for 12 years with the best test scores as a math teacher and I don’t even like test scores. Being a union advocate as leadership got me on the radar, and finding the fault in my Union as leadership put the nail in the coffin. I brought two boxes home when I went out on leave for stress related issues. I don’t think I ever want to see the rest of it again. I loved teaching. I have fought for kids so strongly, I ran the Kiwanis based club, the homeless pantry, spokE at every school board meeting, lobbied legislators, and testified at every legislative session. I have been a national badass teachers admin from the beginning two years ago. I joke about going to work at 7 eleven to now get away from the stress. My school district takes up three fourths of the state, so other opportunities are grim. my mother is willing to finance a house for us to move out of state, but I worry about getting a job somewhere else since my job history is ruined. I don’t see what I have to move away from my own 20 yr old daughter. I don’t see why I have to move away from a district that has 600 long term substitute and is hiring 2500 teachers this year they can’t find after putting me on probation for selling my own daughter’s district approved fundraising chocolate bars for her orchestra class. According to our new state statutes from 2 years ago, I basically could do anything wrong. My grievance was approved by my Union on the chocolate bars which was an event dating back 3 years ago and I am told it will take another 3 to 5 years for it to see the light of day.
    Interesting part? I never cried until I read your article That kept repeating “I lost my job”. I used to go 13 to 14 hours a day, and now I don’t want to do anything. And worse, I can’t decide what to plan as something which would be better than nothing. I am stuck between anger, disgust, & unjustified shame.
    Thank you for the article. At least I get to recognize now that that is how I’m feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for writing this, it made me cry too. I was only a probationary teacher when I lost my job, and I wasn’t much good yet, but the Principal cut me off and I never got the chance to prove that I could get better. And I was too old, and after being out of my first career long enough to train as a teacher, I couldn’t get back into that again either. I’ve been working as a sub since then, telling myself that the way schools are treating teachers these days, I’m better off out than in, but your article brought the hurt home again, the hurt I never let myself really feel at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I taught for many years, and then I stayed home with my children for a few years. I returned this year as a probationary teacher, only also to be non-renewed. This line resonated with me: “The thing is, I know I’m not a horrible teacher. I’m not the world’s best teacher, but I’m a pretty damn good teacher.”

    But, it is about test scores, and I addressed more than just test scores, which wasn’t what the administration wanted.

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    • Because why would we care about the WHOLE child, right? #sarcasm

      “They” may say they care about social/emotional learning, character ed, whatever they’re calling it…but it always comes back to the test scores. I hate that.

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry you were non-renewed.

      Like

  4. My heart goes out to you, Undercover BAT. A few years ago, my district furloughed 1/4 of the staff due to state budget cuts. I’ve seen far too many excellent teachers pack up their classrooms. I don’t know you well but I’ll say this – anyone who can write like this and cares so much about their students is probably an amazing teacher. You have touched so many lives with this blog. I’m sure you’ve made a difference in the lives of a lot of kids, too. Don’t lose heart. You deserve so much better and if there’s any justice in this world, you’ll get it. Sending big hugs from your favorite gadfly.

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    • Thank you, Steven. I can’t imagine what it was like for the 25% furloughed…or the 75% left behind.

      Your line about the kids is making me cry, so I’m just going to say thank you again and I REALLY hope someday there is justice in the world for all of this that we experience.

      Like

  5. Looking through the replies, I feel so much sadness for all who are in this position. Even more than that, I feel the despair for our country and it’s future. Due to politics, we’re losing experienced, caring professionals who can make a difference in the generations to come. Fewer people are coming into the profession, and those that are, the majority leave before they can become the “effective” teachers that those not in education demand or the effective teachers that our students deserve. I’ve been threatened with the same issues and non-renewals, and I wonder why I keep going. Thank you for the candidness of how you feel and sharing with us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve brought up something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Those teachers who are leaving before they should, and those who should be teachers who are smart enough to major in something else. Meanwhile, the children suffer.

      Thanks for being one of the teachers who stays in the fight.

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  6. OHHH…my heart hurts. One enters teaching seeing it as a 8-4 job, a calling or a vocation. Sometimes seeing it as a job initially led to recognizing a calling and it became vocation. We used to discuss this very thing in the workrooms, the lunchrooms, the teachers’ room , we’d wonder just where we were on that line, or was it a sequence? Could you choose, could you purposely make yourself one or another? A high number of teachers knew it was a calling, a task they simply could not let themselves miss out on doing with this one life. Then there were those of us who knew it was what we were born to, there was no choice other than just what that teaching would be. Schools, the ministry, the Peace Corps? Always, always the desire to create good, to encourage growth, to guide, to love to create the ‘aha’ moment and show others how it was within themselves to do the same. Look where we have been forced in education now. I do not doubt for a moment that you were just what your students needed. For the time you were allowed to give all to those kids, you did. You put good into a world. That’s more than most professions do. I wish good for you, I pray you come through this time whole. Persevere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is extremely unjust, and it is not about you or your teaching skils. It is about the almighty dollar. It is a political movement to lower the cost of educating children. Wisconsin has just decided that their teachers do not need to have a degree. Well, they will find out that they get what they are willing to pay for. You need to find a way to protect yourself from this. You have worked too long, too hard, and you have given way too much of your time away as it is. Fight back, but keep your cool. Consult an attorney. The unions are not doing enough to protect the seasoned employees!!!!

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  7. Similar to my situation. Only I chose to hang it up with retirement after 28 years of being a music teacher. It has been my lifelong passion to get kids to create and perform and my vision and ability to do that has now been greatly diminished by mandates, scheduling, and politics. My school’s vision and leadership are so narrow minded that they cannot even schedule band and choir. So, I too am in the process of packing everything up from my classroom. Best of luck to you and may God help all of us and our country for turning our back on children and what is really good for their education.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is a strong under current of age discrimination in education. Of course they would rather hire a first year teacher. It’s cheaper! We cannot allow this to happen! Get an attorney the minute you start to feel they are pushing you out. Don’t take anything they say to heart. It is a political and economic ploy!!!

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  8. So sorry about your job. Know that you have made a difference in many, many lives…….. I chose to retire earlier that I had planned to last year after 38.5 years of teaching because the middle school Family and Consumer Sciences program (my job) was a major budget cut due to the fact that it was one of two remaining “specials” that weren’t required by the state (WI). I too, packed up, feeling sad for me, but worse for all the kids who won’t have the opportunity to learn the life skills that they did in my grade 5-8 classes. I do some subbing now and many kids still tell me how much they learned and enjoyed taking FCS classes, and how they wish the program still remained. We all know that education isn’t all about test scores……:(….. but tight budgets dictate many things, unfortunately.

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  9. Do not let this happen. If you have reached a level where you are “too expensive” that tells me you may have grounds for a discrimination complaint with EEOC, and you need an attorney. Email me or message me. I have a lot to tell you. Do not give up!!!

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      • That is true unions cannot help much even if you have a contract. Many unions are too much into collaborating with the district, not ruffling feathers. Well that’s not what they are paid for. I for one am sick of the fancy hotels and events they attend. Seems like a lot of the things they do could be done on conference calls. Some union leaders are gone more than they are home.

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  13. This resonated with me because I also lost my job this year.

    I’m fortunate that I’ve already been hired elsewhere (with a big pay increase!) and given the problems at my former school it’s probably for the best. It still hurts though.

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