Teaching is one of the most difficult and yet most important jobs you can have. Despite this, teachers are continuously underpaid, underappreciated, and lack the support they need from their school boards and the families of their students. This former kindergarten teacher quit teaching for reasons that may surprise most people. This is her story.
Why This Ex-Kindergarten Teacher Quit Teaching
Jessica Gentry got into teaching because she loves kids and wanted to help make the world a better place. The idea was never to quit teaching. Not long into her career, however, she knew that she had to quit. After quitting, she put up a post on Facebook explaining why, which has now gone viral for how raw and honest her words were. (1)
Gentry did not quit for the reasons that many people might like to believe, such as (1):
- Low pay
- Lack of passion
- Wanting a different career
No, she quit for reasons that she knew would make many people uncomfortable if said out loud, but she knew it was important for them to be heard.
“Some would allow them to assume that… let them be comfortable in their assumptions because your truth may lead to discomfort of others. Well… I’m not some. That ain’t me.” (1)
Five Main Reasons She Quit Teaching
There are five overarching reasons why Gentry quit. Each of these reasons are as complex as they are unfortunate, especially when it is ultimately the children, our future, who are the most affected.
1. “The Kids Have Changed”
In her post, she talks about how people like to put the blame on the kids for why teaching has become so difficult. That, she said, is just simply not the truth. According to her, kids are just kids, like they always have been. It’s parenting and society that is changing around them in ways that they are not equipped to dealing with.
“Parents are working crazy hours, consumed by their devices, leaving kids in unstable parenting/coparenting situations, terrible media influences… and we are going to give the excuse that the KIDS have changed? What did we expect them to do?” she writes. (1)
She goes on to explain that kids are most likely to act out in environments where they feel the safest. Kids who are well-behaved in the classroom are able to be that way because they have safety and stability at home. For the children who don’t, which is a group increasing in size, school is their safe place.
“The kids flipping tables at school?” she says. “They don’t have a safe place at home. Our classrooms are the first place they’ve ever heard ‘no’, been given boundaries, shown love through respect.” (1)
2. School’s Reliance on Technology
Gentry says the school’s response to these challenges are to try to “modernize” and keep up with society. This primarily means introducing more and more technology into the classrooms.
The problem with this, she writes, is that it ignores things like hands-on learning and relationship building, things kids need in order to grow into proper functioning adults.
“Kids already can’t read social cues and conduct themselves appropriately in social settings… let’s toss more devices at them because it looks good on our website.” (1)
She says that so much of the focus has been put on technology that even in interviews, employers care more about how good she is with technology than how she is with children.
3. The Insistence on More Training
As things are becoming more and more chaotic in the classroom and students’ learning continues to be affected, departments and school boards have determined that the teachers just need more training. This is problematic for a couple of reasons:
– It takes away multiple planning periods each week
– Pulls teachers out of school and away from students during class time
– Are all assessment based instead of about teaching
Afterward, teachers must administer these new assessment tools with little to no help. It takes weeks to have each child go through the assessment and takes away from actual instruction time, where the kids learn.
“Just this year, a new math assessment was introduced for K teachers. We had to attend a training on a school day (time missed with students) then it took us THREE WEEKS to administer it… one on one… to 21 students. Such. A. Waste. All of the info I could have told you about them without taking away from precious instructional time.” (1)
4. Customer Service Mindset
Gentry goes on to talk about how despite teachers and parents theoretically being on the same team, they are no longer partners. The teacher is no longer right, and they are no longer able to effectively discipline and teach their students without complaints from the parents.
“I’ve seen the Facebook rants about attendance and getting “the letter”. Well, here’s the thing… I can’t teach your child if he’s not in school,” she writes. “I’ve had parents stand me up multiple times on Conference Days then call to tattle on me when I refused to offer an after school option. I’ve had parents tell me that I’m not allowed to tell their child ‘no’” (1)
She explains how she has been yelled and cursed at by parents who are unable to attend a field trip because they never responded to the multiple notices going home asking for parent volunteers. When the next trip came around and those parents did attend, they spent the entire day looking at their phone.
5. Her Own Health
Lastly, Gentry explains that both her mental and physical health were suffering because of her job. She loves her students and wanted so badly to be a positive influence in their lives and help them to succeed. Ultimately, however, she knew that if she was not in a good place herself, her presence in the classroom would begin to have the opposite effect than what she desired.
“Watching them [the students] come in… dirty clothes… chaos at home… and knowing they need more than you can give them in a classroom of 21, with less and less support, multiple languages spoken, several different disabilities… it breaks you. We become emotional eaters. We become couch potatoes to zone out. We become so short-fused that our families suffer.” (1)
The Bottom Line
Gentry is just one of many passionate educators who are beaten down and broken by the profession. If changes aren’t made soon, our children will continue to suffer and lose great teachers like her.
If you’re a parent, support your child’s teacher. Listen to what they have to say, and figure out how you can work with them for the betterment of your children.
If you’re a principal, school board member, or a member of the government, hear what Gentry has said in her post and understand that she is not unique, this is not just one person’s opinion. Our teachers need more support. They need to be heard, they need to be helped, and they need to be championed.
Share this article with your friends and family if you agree. The more people hear Gentry’s story, the higher chance there is for change.