Please welcome S.R. for this week’s “Last Straw” post. S. R. emailed me out of frustration to share her story of being a music teacher in several different schools… and never receiving a proper classroom! She’s taught music on an auditorium stage, in the hallway, and even outdoors. Here’s her real story in her own words…
I googled “former teacher”, and your website appeared. The Internet is sometimes magical.
I have been an elementary school music teacher for ten years. In that time, I have never once hated teaching.
I love to teach. I love to see children “get it”. I love hearing the music they make, observing their progress over time, and sharing their hilarious comments with colleagues, family, and friends. I love learning new lessons, teaching new ideas, learning about the curricula in students’ classrooms, and finding ways to connect other subjects to my own.
However, I do not love losing my classroom.
In every school I’ve taught, I have lost my classroom repeatedly, if I had one at all. In my current job, the breaking point came when the heat broke in my classroom. Though a free room was available, I was told rather flippantly, “Just be flexible and go to their classrooms.”
My classroom is a theater stage. One of the walls is a folding wall. (The building is three years old.) Two weeks before the heat stopped working, there was a man dressed in a dog suit on the other side of the wall. He was playing loud and inappropriate music in order to convince children brush their teeth. When I brought this concern to the primary school director, her response was, “Can’t you just be flexible today? Move your classes to the afternoon, or go to their classrooms.”
I am not leaving because of the children, their parents, or my colleagues. I am leaving because I cannot work with what the administrators give me, and I cannot accept how I have been – and continue to be – treated. The management has become so inept and/or hostile that my doctor wants me to take a leave of absence due to stress.
I have no idea what I want to do next. I am working through a book called “What Color Is Your Parachute?”, which is about choosing the right career for yourself. I have been asking former teachers what they’ve done since leaving the profession, and I’ve spoken to people who have left jobs for various reasons. One friend, who left music teaching for similar reasons, suggested a company that helps others find doctors. I have almost finished the application process for that position.
I will miss the children, and I will miss most of my colleagues. I will miss making music. I will miss the connections my students make. I feel guilty, ashamed, and strangely relieved for leaving this career behind after so much time and effort. Unfortunately, there is only so much abuse one can take, and I have reached and exceeded my breaking point.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story, and thank you for your blog.
-S.R. in the United States