Dead Teacher Walking, Or How BATs Are Awesome

box

There is a tv trope of a character who has been fired immediately walking to his car with a single box of personal belongings.

It doesn’t work that way if you’re a teacher.

If you’re a teacher and you’re told you won’t be teaching there next year…you go back to work. Maybe for a few days. Maybe for a few weeks. You teach and attend IEP meetings and watch that countdown to summer take a new meaning. Now it’s the countdown to your unemployment. 

On the day I found out I lost my job, I only told two close friends in the building. If anyone else asked me outright, I would be honest, but I wasn’t broadcasting it.

No matter. The whispered rumors had already begun.

It wasn’t my friends. My suspicion is that word leaked from the office, but I’ll never know for sure. All I know is that when someone asked me a few days later as I took boxes to my car, she nodded solemnly and said, “Well, I had heard rumors, but you never know if they’re true.” And she’s right about that. But when I stepped back from the situation, I saw what had been happening while I was focusing on other things.

I’m a dead teacher walking. Someone who it isn’t worth it to talk to, even to say hello to, because what does it matter? I’m going to be gone soon.

There are a few who will speak to me. A few. But all of those teachers who claimed we’re like a family? I’m the new black sheep, and I’m out.

So as I struggle through these last few days, as I tape up more moving boxes and try to carry on with business as usual with my kids, I know the truth.

In my building, I’m virtually alone in this.

BUT.

I was tempted to end this blog post here, but the truth is, that’s only half the story. There’s a whole universe out there beyond the walls of my school.

The last several days have been unbelievably difficult, and support within my school building is mostly nonexistent.

But.

My teacher friends, my BAT friends, have gone above and beyond. From the well wishes and thoughts and prayers to the private messages with the names of schools to send my resume to. The friend who was networking at a graduation party and texting me names of schools to follow up with. The friends who have shared this blog and helped get the word out, helped spread the narrative that too many teachers are experiencing this time of year.

bat 6And then, to have Marla and Priscilla post this on the BAT blog? That was completely unexpected. The response, both on the blog and in BATs, shows me that I’m (unfortunately) not alone in what I am experiencing. That this is becoming a widespread epidemic as teachers are devalued.

So yeah, in my building I’m persona non grata, dead teacher walking. But outside of my school…I’m surrounded by badass teachers. And that’s not a bad place to be.

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21 thoughts on “Dead Teacher Walking, Or How BATs Are Awesome

  1. Thank you for giving me a name to these last weeks. I was given my non-renewal notice with six weeks of teaching left, and you summed it up perfectly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My dearest UCB, you are a trooper. I am proud of you for finding that positive side to a heartbreaking situation. I am so glad you did not allow this remarkable life interruption break your spirit. As for the people in your former school…people are weird.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The irony in all of this is that I am NOT a positive person, especially when it comes to situations like this. This post only had the first half written for awhile, and I was all set to post when I stopped to think about all the BATs who have said and done great things. So lo and behold, it is a post filled with positivity, of all things!

      (I had a really bad day after posting it, so I think the universe has now righted itself.)

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Like

  3. Perfect phrase – “dead teacher walking.” I’ve been there. Have a job now but could be there again next year. I’m living life so on the edge that every year I cart all my boxes home just in case. I’m a survivor though and have faith you too will get through this. With your skill, you might consider using your new free time to write the next great teacher novel. An “Up the Down Staircase” or “to Sir with Love” for the new millennium? I think you’ve already got a great title for it – Dead Teacher Walking!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaha, you win the funniest comment award. To be honest, I wondered if “dead teacher walking” was too crass, but I decided to use it anyway. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Like

  4. I’ve been there, too. Three times. But every one of those times I landed on my feet. The last time my job search lasted only one week! So hold your head up, stay professional, and welcome that next opportunity. And you’d have lots of readers, should the opportunity turn out to be a book!

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    • Thanks for the encouragement. I’ve been here before too, although this year’s experience has been the most intense (that’s putting it nicely). My resume’s been mailed and emailed, and hopefully I will hear something soon. Job searches are so demoralizing.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Like

  5. I wish this article was around several years ago. I remember finding out I wasn’t coming back to a school I loved. They told me in January. It’s like you’ve been fired, but still have to work 4 more months. The students were super supportive. It took me a long time to recover. You got this. You will find your fit. Patience. Be a damn good teacher. Be a BAT!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yup, Ive been there. But, the others didn’t ignore me. They were sneaking in my room early in the morning before school began to tell me how sorry they were and how they didn’t like the principal. The school secretary stopped me and told me that the principal’s spy is the reading specialist. She told me to late, but I was surprised. I don’t think I ever said anything to her I regret. Teachers came to me after school when most had left to tell me their stories of woe with this principal. I have been retired three years now, and most of the teachers I knew are gone. They left before she could force them out. How sad. They were all good teachers, but they are now teaching, hopefully, in better places.

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  7. I relate to this story at so many levels. In fact, I can add the dose of irony which so many of us experience in this crazy, but supposedly brave new world. I lost my teaching position this spring, and at one and the same time was asked to give the Commencement Address to the graduating class for the second time in as many years! And I did. And sitting behind me was the Superintendent and School Board who drove our district into ruin, which precipitated my release due “to financial constraints.” Laughable.

    Fortunately, I landed on my feet with a bigger, more stable district 21 miles away (I don’t have to uproot myself entirely). I was so tempted to express to the Supt what a favor he had done for me – because it led to a significant raise in salary. Nonetheless, we build relationships with those who matter most – students. And now I have to find a new set of them to love. And I will, because I know what is important.

    This too, from a Badass T who supports this organization and believes in its mission!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: The Last Time | undercoverBAT's Blog

  9. I felt as you do, but had a slightly different experience.

    Five years ago, I left a school, broken and hurt. I had just taught my first year, but would not agree to a second year, because of an abusive workload. Private school, no union, extra duties – you get the picture.

    I was devastated. Other teachers, students, and parents came up to me to express their support; wrote letters and had meetings with administration on my behalf; but ultimately, despite finding out I would not be returning, I still had to teach for FOUR more months. It was so tempting to give up and feel like I should punish the administration, but I knew too well that my students would be the injured party, more than anyone else.

    Yes, I was offered a job at a public school for the next year before the summer hit, thanks to friends and networking, but it still stung.

    I was bitter for a while, mostly over it by mid-summer, and ended up growing a thicker skin, which, as a young teacher, I REALLY needed.

    Now I’M the one leaving my public school job. I’ll be joining a private company, making a much better salary and benefits, without the take-home stress.

    I LOVED my students, my subject area, and many of my colleagues, but in the end, the profession took too much, much more than it gave, and I need to be able to provide for my family.

    Hugs to you, and remember that our low seasons grow us and prep us for the new blessings and challenges to come. I’m confident that something better will come your way. It usually does.

    Lots of love to you! Be encouraged. This is more of a reflection on the state of our profession than it is on you.

    (Hugs)

    Liked by 1 person

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