Enough is Enough!
By Miss B.
There are many places that are symbols of peace and love: church, home, library, school, gym, etc. As a teacher, one of favorite places is my classroom. It’s where I spend half of my summer decorating; I’ve arranged my desks exactly how I believe the best learning will occur. My classroom is where I assist young thoughts blossom and take flight. However, contrary to popular belief that all schools are full of amazing people who mold young minds and sing Common Core State Standards to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” some schools have very toxic environments. Despite my “happy place” being my classroom, when I step out in the hallway, the campus becomes a breeding ground for negativity, criticism, and self-doubt. Regardless of how many homemade Thank You cards I receive from my prepubescent babies, my mental health is being severely affected by the outside influence that is my administration.
According to an Education Department survey in USA Today, in a survey of more than 4,000 educators, “61% of educators, as well as school staff, say their work is ‘always’ or ‘often’ stressful” (USA Today, October 2017). Additionally, in an interview with The 74 Million, researcher Greenberg, identified three major stressors: “increased focus on standardized testing and accountability, unstable leadership at the school level, and inadequate resources for dealing with behavioral problems in the classroom” (The 74 Million, October 2017). Another statistic shows, “More than 75 percent say they do not have enough staff to get the work done, and 78 percent say they are often physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day” (Teach Thought, December 2017).
Each of these surveys is saying the same thing: teachers are overworked, underpaid, stressed out, and need more support.
Regardless of the numerous studies on educators and mental health, no one takes into consideration the well being of educators. Educators in various states must tackle so many societal issues, in addition to maintaining a smile for our students. Behind our plastic smiles and creative lesson plans, there are stress lines from mortgages and credit card payments not being paid, district assessments that need to be prepared for, parent conferences that need to be scheduled, evaluations to be planned for, IEP meetings to be attended, teen pregnancies that need to be prevented, protests that need to be marched, substitute teacher plans to be written, Pinterest boards that need to be stalked, students that need to be advocated for, supplies to be purchased, etc. The list never ends. In addition to the ever-growing list, educators must make sure to follow all protocol on their own campus, which can get sticky when they don’t have the support necessary to even follow the school’s procedures.
With all of the things to be checked off of their to-do list, admin should be the last group of stressors on a teacher’s mind. However, some admin simply create a toxic situation because they have nothing else to do. Educators must decide if it is in their best interest to walk away from the entire school altogether. Yes. No matter how much a teacher loves his or her students, if the admin is not supportive or holds personal vendettas, the students simply cannot make up for that.
Tough skin is necessary in every occupation, but what happens when admin hurls nuclear weapon-like insults instead of simply constructive criticism? It is okay to walk away. Although teacher preparation enrollment numbers are at an all-time low, and I’m not advocating for the erasure of teachers, but teachers must know when a school site has served its purpose. With all of the stressors already present in the profession, who has time to add unsupportive admin to that list?
As the saying goes, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” When educators are already drained and have given all they can give on the front lines, there is nothing more to say. Mental health and self-care are important. If an administration is not satisfying those basic needs of support, it is time to go.
Hello! My name is Miss B. I am a third-year English teacher in Los Angeles, California. I'm currently teaching seventh grade at a charter school. As a spitting image of my mom, who is an educator, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. Throughout my educational journey, she and my dad encouraged my love of learning. I attended Marymount California University to get my Associate’s degree in Communication. After graduation, I attended Loyola Marymount University, earning my Bachelor’s in English and Master’s in Secondary Education. As a Black educator, my goal is to encourage my students in their educational journey, in addition to their journey through identity.