- Today’s subject is partly in honor of Rebekah’s sister Rachel, who loved to teach and was committed to helping those students who needed a little extra.
So three things tend to happen when you take on the task of tidying/reorganizing a study.
- An actual desk emerges from under the cumulative detritus.
- More mess is created (hopefully only for the short term).
- Interesting stuff is uncovered that takes all attention away from the initial task of organizing and tidying.
I found priceless things like the contract for my first book, the notification for my Amy Foundation journalism award, and a wonderful, encouraging letter from A-list author Philip Yancey in response to my first two books.
Then I uncovered a folder containing teaching certifications, my college transcripts (along with surprising grades), and – something I did not know I had – a copy of the resignation letter that put a period (the British call it a full-stop) at the end of my two-decade teaching career.
I think the resignation letter is worth sharing. It not only clearly tells the story, it speaks directly to the predicament too many teachers find themselves in today.
The letter is addressed to my principal at Turkey Creek, Mark West. Mark (now a big-wig in Volusia County Schools) was a good man and an extremely competent administrator in the early stages of a brilliant career in Ed Leadership.
First, let me say that I enjoy working with you. I have always felt that you are a colleague rather than merely the “boss.” You maintain an open, cooperative environment in which I have not been afraid to be honest or to do my best. You have been both encouraging and respectful.
The problem is that I seem to have lost my calling to teach over these past few months. There are many factors at work here, and no individual variable can explain how I reached this point. When I include two years as a teacher’s aid, two years of ESE college work, and one year home-schooling my son, I have over twenty years in the field – so I am certainly a candidate for burnout! Add to that the increasing incongruity between ideals and practice, the expanding stranglehold of paperwork, children who simply refuse to be helped, parents who care even less, and a growing sense of ineffectiveness on my part.
There is also a tendency – with our ESE* supervision – to focus more on discrepancies with minutia than to encourage, or even note, success. This has been more of a problem for some of my teaching colleagues than for me, but an atmosphere of discouragement and acrimony has gradually been fostered in the department. This is unfortunate, because there is so much good stuff going on that deserves more recognition than the few problems that exist with paperwork…
…Additionally, I have been extremely disappointed in my ability to help children this year. I have reached the end of the 184 days with very little evidence of progress in my class, and that is probably the kind of encouragement I have needed more than anything.
I know this is long, but I wanted to give you the whole scoop. In short, this is my letter of resignation (you’ll have to help me with the details). I don’t want to be one of those teachers who “should have quit years ago”!
Thanks again for all your personal support and encouragement – I have valued that enormously. I will miss the positive environment of a good school.
Grace and Peace – Derek Maul
- “ESE” = Exceptional Student Education
Teachers deserve more support and respect!
Hopefully this offers a little insight into the world of teaching – and the job has only become more complicated and stressful over the ensuing years.
Let me be clear: Educating children as part of the team that prepares them for life is one of the most important jobs on the planet. When students and their teachers are neither encouraged nor supported (by parents, administrators, politicians, general public) then the message is anti-education, anti-future, anti-progress, anti-democracy, anti-learning, anti-social… in short, anti-life.
I loved my teaching career, and I was good at it. But it was only sustainable for around 20-years. We can do better than that; we have to do better than that.
Peace (and we need educated citizens for that, too) – DEREK