My High & Low Moments as a Teacher, All in One Day

Yesterday capped off my fourth year as a second-career high school mathematics teacher.  Unfortunately, this past year served as my most difficult, heaping unbelievable amounts of stress upon me.  Perhaps ironically, my last day mirrored the highs and lows of the year.

In the short span of less than twelve hours, I experienced the following highs and lows.

  • Immense gratification for being recognized in a local newspaper article by one of my just graduated students as having a profound impact on her preparedness for college; this student received a full scholarship to an Ivy League university as a 2015 Gates Millenium Scholar.
  • Unbelievable pettiness and chastisement from my interim principal for not turning in my classroom key on time.

Sandwiched between these two moments, and the reason I kept my key, I met with a distraught student and parents to address their concerns over the student’s final grade.  Yet, for some reason, this interim principal decided it was more important that I turn in my key than meet with the family, as he ordered me to rush to the office from my classroom a few moments before they were scheduled to arrive.

As I hastened to the office, baffled as to the short-sightedness of the administrator, I realized I left my sign-off sheet in my backpack in my car.  Entering the office, I handed the key to the school secretary, mentioning what I just realized.  The admin, standing nearby, demanded that I bring in my form first thing Monday to which I replied I could not as I was on notice for jury duty starting that day.  His retort was for me to come on Tuesday, to which I wondered at his civic knowledge and replied exasperatedly that in my four years working at the school this is the first time I was required to turn in my key, of which the admin said he was honored.  Incredulous, and not wanting to meet with this individual next week, I hurried to my car and back to the office with the sign out sheet, all the while my classroom door was left open with my computer unattended for I could no longer open my locked classroom.

Adding insult to injury, just prior to my dialog with this admin, which set the above chain of events in motion, he left a message on my cellphone stating that he would dock my pay for the day since I had not turned in my key on-time, and hence, he assumed, had not reported to school, which was untrue.  This admin seems to relish the power he wields over teachers, especially in miniscule matters.  Sadly, he cannot see the forest for the trees and hides behind a facade of friendliness with his Cheshire cat smile.

Given my experience yesterday, this past school year, and my entire four years teaching, it is no wonder new teachers leave the profession in droves.  There are so many idiosyncrasies to teaching, that even the most dedicated, passionate, and committed souls falter under the pressure.  I still plan to teach next year, given the enormity of my student loan debt, some of which can be forgiven by teaching at my present school.  However, I do not know if I will see a decade in the classroom.

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About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Secondary math teacher teaching math intervention, algebra 1, honors precalculus, and AP Calculus AB. I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.
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7 Responses to My High & Low Moments as a Teacher, All in One Day

  1. Kat O'Brien says:

    I’m so sorry, Dave, for that ridiculous display of idiocy you had to endure. I just finished my 6th year of second-career teaching and am fortunate to work for a principal who “gets it,” and who puts student needs first ALWAYS. However, that hasn’t kept me from similar days of highs and lows. As you already know, these types of petty, self-aggrandizing power seekers are in every profession. So, I ask you to shake your head and pity the fool, knowing YOU have set the better example of personal responsibility, humility and respect for your students and our furture leaders. Stay the course, friend!

    Like

  2. xiousgeonz says:

    Document, document, document.

    Like

  3. xiousgeonz says:

    (And… good luck and don’t let ’em burn you out!)

    Like

  4. gflint says:

    You have to take the good with the bad. It is part of life. In teaching I have found the good out weighs the bad by a big margin so I can handle the bad fairly well.

    Like

  5. Minerva says:

    After nearly a decade, I left teaching. I was just really burned out. This was nearly 5 years ago. I’ve since moved to another state and am about to re-enter the teaching profession. I’m not quite sure what to expect. I’m optimistic that this break from teaching was what I needed.

    Like

  6. Anne says:

    From my experience, the worst thing for a teacher is not being supported by administration. You can deal with bad stuff, if they back you up and support you. But if they treat you like a peon, it’s hard to want to stay. Administrators should strive to give out thanks and accolades whenever appropriate. Without the teachers, the school would be nothing. I have experienced a similar situation about turning in keys quickly. They don’t care, what is keeping you longer in the classroom than expected. The actual issue is that the person just wants to go home ASAP! I hope you get a better administrator soon.

    Like

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