Dear Lit Loves,
Well, it was interesting to note that our new N.C. State School Superintendent is conducting a "listening tour" for the next year to determine how to fix our public schools. First, I can tell you that even if you started this former N.C. teacher at a beginning salary of $50,000 a year, I would not go back into a public school classroom and I know why North Carolina has a high teacher turnover rate as well as why so many teachers are disenfranchised with the profession.
For me it began with the lack of my personal property being safe. During my first year of teaching, I had my car keyed and so did other teachers. There was no lockable space inside my classroom in which to secure my personal belongings. And even if I did lock my classroom, it could be accessed through an accordian-like folding panel that separated me and my team teacher's classrooms. It didn't help that our classrooms had always previously been used as locker rooms and were still utilized as such during after-school activities. No teacher wants to walk inside her classroom one morning and find her chalkboard or dry erase board littered with basketball and football plays. Nor did I as a teacher like finding underwear, socks, candy wrappers, and empty soft drink cans all over my students' desks.
And let me continue by saying that if you have a teacher who is going to be chronically absent and the administration cannot locate a willing substitute teacher for that classroom, I do not appreciate an administrator or another teacher suddenly appearing at my classroom door during my planning hour and instructing me I am to go "cover" a class where the teacher is absent and no sub is willing to commit to instruct the class. If I don't have at least my teacher planning period each day to myself, it is highly likely I will not be able to prepare for my classes properly or maintain my sanity.
Mentoring of a new teacher by a veteran teacher who is getting paid extra for that specific duty should involve more than just showing up and evaluating a teacher's skills during a class period. Other than when my teaching mentors walked inside my classroom for my scheduled/unscheduled evaluations during a given class period, I never heard from or was advised by any of my so-called "mentor" teachers. If mentor teachers are not going to give advice, check-in emotionally with a new teacher, and give them the crucial support they need in their first three years of teaching, you have already contributed to an instructor becoming disenfranchised with teaching.
And for heaven's sake could someone supervise students in the cafeteria so teachers can have twenty minutes to eat their lunch in peace. Honestly, if a food fight breaks out or gangsters walk into the cafeteria during a given lunch period, trust me, it is better if a school resource officer or two administrators are there to handle the situation. Also, if a teacher has a sudden emergency such as a health issue or urgent family problem, someone needs to relieve the teacher immediately and not two hours later when it is convenient for a sub, administrator, etc. to arrive and takeover classroom duties for that particular day.
Finally, the level of violence in many a public school today is completely out of hand. I have seen two female middle school students duke it out like MMA fighters. I have witnessed a student enter my classroom and walk up to me and ask for help while blood drips from his hand because he was stabbed in a bathroom during class change. There was not even a first aid kit in the classroom during that particular instance in time and can you imagine trying to then conduct a literature class with a student's blood all over the floor, teacher podium, desks, and classroom door?! And yes, I do think there need to be cameras in classrooms, hallways, school parking lots, the cafeteria, and gymnasium.
So if anyone on The N.C. State Board of Education is listening or reading this post, take note. And you could also read my book, Brave Soul Rising: Tales From The Trenches of An Uncharmed Life, to begin to get a feel for what a first year teacher in North Carolina faces on a daily basis. If you take the time to read the book, you should discover why teachers list "Other Reasons" when they resign and fill out a form inquiring as to why they are leaving the profession. If you haven't lived the life of a teacher or walked in her/his shoes, you will simply be sitting in a conference room full of other regional school board directors and simply guessing as to why so many teachers today are not walking, but running from teaching in the public schools of North Carolina.
Till My Next Post,