An Awful Moment: Choosing to Say Goodbye to a School

About Sherlene Merritt

I am a lead education specialist working in the foremost urban school district,in an effort to reach our future history makers. I am a proven leader, mentor teacher, curriculum designer, and proven classroom educator. With nearly 8 years in the classroom, I am ready to continue my leadership of educators, as we move forward creating a culture of learning for the future.

Fellow educators, many of us on the front lines in the schools of America are bearing witness to “an awful moment” in the history of education. We are losing many soldiers, as the fight becomes too hard to bear.  As many of you in education know, education is clearly supposed to be about the students.  However, so often, teachers are caught up in a political quagmire of “who you know” and “what can you do for me.” There are booby traps that lie in wait for the well-meaning teachers, who are sabotaged by those who have lost “the light.”  Quite frankly, there is often no way to gain promotional opportunities or to simply keep your fervor and love of teaching without learning to play nice in the heavily politicized war games that go on in each school across America.

This awful moment is made worse because the love of teaching dies hard.  That said, often teachers stay in a very difficult and emotionally damaging situation because they are hopeful that simply focusing on the kids will make life and learning bearable.  I am certain that each of you reading know teachers who have believed that if they simply put their noses to the grindstone and did the “important” work that needed to be done their supervisors, evaluators, and administrators would eventually come to their senses and thank them for their contributions. This is a thank you that may come for some but never arrives for most. However, there is a bright side to ending unhealthy relationships in education.  There is beauty in letting go of the moment and reaching for the future.

Speaking of the future, it’s so hard to say goodbye to the “rose colored glasses” memories and moments that compel classroom educators to stay in a teaching situation when they should not.  In a Boys to Men moment, I think it is much healthier for teachers to know and accept when they have come to the “End of the Road” in a school.  More importantly, a well -equipped teacher should bask in their knowledge that, as apathy and ineptitude have crept into our profession, they are a free agent, who, in the spirit of LeBron James, can take their talents anywhere.

While we may reside a while in that “awful moment” where teachers are choosing to leave the profession all together, we must take heart in the fact that the desire to learn and teach can never be satiated.  While there are those who choose to stay in very distressing teaching situations and suffer in silence, this piece calls for a moment of reflection.  While there are so many teachers who are beaten down by the bureaucracy and red tape that keeps the educational conversations going about everything except sound instruction, there are leaders who are ready for the true work that needs to be done in education.   While the meetings in schools rage on about the operations of the school, sports exploits, etc.,  teacher concerns are left behind.

Sadly, there are few meetings about the mental well-being and morale of the very important people who are tasked with educating the youth of America.  This “moment’ is one that will witness exits from the lives of well-loved and would-be well- educated students by teachers who have simply had enough.  Those of you who are choosing to hang on, it is time to stop and ask why is it “so hard to say goodbye” to data-driven demagogues who speak to our value added to the many “testables,” while overlooking our value to the lives of our students each day.   It’s a short and pithy call to action, but it is a call to stop in this “moment” and realize your value and your worth.  Free agency season is now open.  Go out and get your well-earned peace of mind in a teaching environment where your skills are appreciated and rewarded.


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By |2017-06-05T22:56:45+00:00April 3rd, 2017|Opinion, Teacher Burnout|1 Comment

About the Author:

I am a lead education specialist working in the foremost urban school district,in an effort to reach our future history makers. I am a proven leader, mentor teacher, curriculum designer, and proven classroom educator. With nearly 8 years in the classroom, I am ready to continue my leadership of educators, as we move forward creating a culture of learning for the future.

One Comment

  1. Jamie April 4, 2017 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    Sherlene, thank you for this article. It is so bizarre that I posted this message on my FB page yesterday opening up and letting friends know that I left teaching in Nov. A lot of people didn’t know, but for many of the reasons you included in this article. Here’s my post…’s a long one LOL I had included a youtube video I found that another teacher explained why she quit.
    I have debated for months now posting this video for many reason.(It’s almost 20 minutes long, but it is a great video, if you would give it a chance)
    First, with the way the system works you never know how something can come back to bite you in the butt, although it isn’t my video. Secondly, it would let everybody know that ” Jamie quit teaching”. Although, I prefer to say, “I did not leave my profession, my profession left me”, which is a quote from a former teacher in an article I read years ago. Finally, I never wanted to be seen as weak and/or a failure. But that point has past because I know I am not. If that’s what someone thinks, so be it, that’s just their opinion.
    The young teacher here made it so clear of the concerns, the function of our schools and what teachers face today. I loved her simple visual she used on paper to map out a day in the life of a teacher. The visual she used is primarily aimed for elementary school teachers. I spent a lot of time making that decision to leave. I allowed it to ruin my health: mentally, physically and spiritually. I ignored my well being because that is what you are suppose to do as a teacher…you come last!
    As for me, the guilt was awful during November and December, leaving behind coworkers/friends, a team I worked with closely for 13.5 years, and of course the kids in the classroom. However, it came down to one thing…I either take care of me NOW, or suffer deeper health consequences in the future. Even as I type this, I still deal/suffer from those same health problems, I am doing what is best for me with the guidance of my doctor. I hid this decision from EVERYONE because I felt like a complete failure. But as my brother Jason Strickland said to me at his house at Christmas…”How can you say you are a failure when you worked and tried for 22 years!!!” He was right, it isn’t like I worked 2 weeks and gave up. I loved teaching and have taught some of the most amazing kids over 22 years. I have worked with some of the most loving and supportive parents during those years too. And, worked under and alongside some great administrators and teachers/friends too.
    But it comes a time, when you have to recognize when something isn’t healthy for you anymore…just as this teacher in the video said as well. Now, I did not write this for a pat on the back or sympathy from anyone. I shared this video with my mother when I found it back in November, so that she could somehow relate and understand the pain, frustration and helpless feeling her oldest child was feeling that Saturday night on Oct. 29…when I said “Mama, I need help!” I held it together way to long and tried to handle all my issues myself, as I always did. But, I reached my breaking point and I knew, that I needed help. So to all my teacher friends out there, if you can, keep doing what you are doing and making that difference and jumping over every hurdle and blast through each roadblock that is placed on your path to success.

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