Saturday, September 13, 2014

30 Years a Teacher! And Still Going Strong!

It's hard to believe that I have been teaching for 30 years. Actually, it's been longer than that since a fresh-faced 20-year old graduated from college,ready to begin a teaching career. Unfortunately, (or fortunately), 1980 was not a good year for teachers in NYC.  I couldn't get a job in a public school for 4 years. Instead, I taught pre-K, Headstart, and kindergartners.

In 1984, I got my first teaching position.They gave me a kindergarten class. I did not want a kindergarten class. I had had enough of the "babies", but, it was a teaching position, so I took it. The first week my class wasn't ready, so I subbed in a 3rd grade classroom for a teacher who was out, just a couple of days. Administration kept walking in and wandering past, I was thinking, "What's going on?". Next thing I knew, that was my class, and they moved that teacher to the library. (I hope he was happier there).And so it began. I taught there for 15 years, two months in Baltimore, and the rest in my present position.

Last year, a 1st year teacher said to me, "My husband said he doesn't see me as just a teacher for 29 years,(the number of years I had been teaching), he sees me as an asst. principal or principal."

You know, sometimes you really don't catch on to what someone has said, and what it really means, until later. Just a teacher?

Here's the thing. There seems to be the misconception that teachers are at the bottom of the rung when one considers hierarchy in education. For some reason, many people, including teachers, believe that the main objective for becoming a teacher is to eventually leave the classroom.

I have chosen to remain in the classroom. If I am fortunate, I will retire from the classroom. The only thing I will miss from an administrative position is the salary.:) That is my choice, and I know a number of teachers who have made that choice as well.

And although teaching is not always a cakewalk, being in the classroom for 30 years has allowed me the pleasure of:

  • working with children
  • impacting the lives of over 700 students
  • watching students "get it" year after year
  • connecting my students with the world
  • building confidence and self-esteem
  • providing a warm, nurturing, environment
  • laughing in the morning and the afternoon
  • playing outside at Recess
  • field trips
  • dancing in the middle of the day
  • trying out all the wonderful, innovative, ideas, I learn from my PLN
  • did I say working with children?
Being a classroom teacher is not for everyone, there are excellent administrators and intructional coaches out there. 

However, there is no shame in my game.:) 
I am a classroom teacher! 30 years, and still going strong!


  1. I HEART this post. I have no desire to ever leave the classroom:-) I don't even mind the pay comparison....I feel like I do more with kids than I ever could as a principal...too many meetings/parent issues/teacher evals....blech! And when I retire, my retirement benefits are better than administrations:-) (However that will not be for a long long time!)
    Chickadee Jubilee

  2. Your career sounds nice. I was a teacher for 10 years, but I had a lot of significant, negative experiences that made teaching not worth it to me. The kids were amazing, and the parents were fine. It was things like having a colleague back-stab me to administration and having that back-stabbing result in a full-on union battle with the principal of the school (which I lost due to extreme bias and suppression of all evidence I provided. My lawyer said what they did was illegal, but proving it would have cost more time and money than I was willing to invest.) I also had a boss once, when I was 23, who was only 24 (neither of us knew anything about anything) and she chose to evaluate me 13 times, despite the fact that the teacher's contract said she was entitled to three. That was another trip to the union. This time, I won. The contract was clear and she violated it as someone in an administrative position. She was formally reprimanded by the Superintendent. There were a few fights to break up, a few times guns were brought into the school I was working in, some alcoholic and pill-addicted co-workers who were literally insane and impossible to work with since they were blasted all the time. Schools with no resources. I could go on.... All of this over the course of 10 years just completely jaded me to the whole enterprise. I honestly would not recommend becoming a teacher to a young person with a college degree. Go into marketing or sales instead. Go make yourself some money, have a nice life and a family. Don't spend all your time being abused by a system that doesn't care how much of a difference you make. Perhaps there are strong and good school systems out there. I just didn't find any of them. Mine were mostly urban or rural systems, which equals poverty of all kinds abounding. I learned an important lesson about myself, which is I am NOT Mother Teresa. I am not on this Earth to save the children of the world. I am in sales now and I have learned that my talent and calling is to make the sale. Make money for my company and myself. That's it. And it feels great. It's a world free of the politically correct double-speak of the education industry.

  3. I am in my twenty-sixth year and feel as you do. Twenty years ago I was part of a great team. One is now a superintendent, one is a principal, and myself, loving teaching!