A lot of people always ask me why I gave up teaching in the public sector, especially only after two years of being in it, and before I even had a full time job (another reason I left). The reason I always give is that it was destroying my happiness. I seriously hated it. I hated a lot of things about the system, and it’s hard to put all of those reasons into words that people will understand, because, let’s face it, most of the people asking me these questions think that I just go and play with kids all day (because that’s obviously all a teacher does: read books and play all day, and let kids run around and do whatever they want)
I want to tell you about one of the reasons I left teaching. I didn’t actually realize this reason until last night, hence the post. And like most of my posts, I’m going to get to the point in a round about way, so strap yourself in and be prepared for trip around the mulberry bush, before actually getting to the other side.
Last night I was watching the tv show Baby Daddy. Yes I know, it’s a stupid show, but I seriously LOVE it! I find it hilarious. Maybe because it’s so stupid? I’m not sure, but I am in love with it. In the particular scene that sparked this memory, the baby (Emma) was scribbling in a colouring book. Just ya know, going at it with a purple crayon, looking like she was having a grand old time.
Then a memory popped into my head. When I first started out as a teacher, I was on the emergency supply list. Anyone can be on this list as long as you have a criminal record check and a recommendation from a teacher. It means that if, for some reason, a school can’t find a qualified supply teacher, they will call you and you need to come ASAP and just be prepared for anything. My first ever emergency day, I met a vice principal (VP from here on out) of a school and she was so nice and accommodating, and I feel over the course of the year we knew each other we developed a professional friendship.
When I eventually got on the regular supply list, this VP had me come in to cover a day for her. I wasn’t technically the VP, there is always a TIC (teacher in charge) to handle all the VP duties, but VP’s will usually always have classes that they teach or extra support that they give to teachers so I would be filling that role.
In the afternoon, the class that I was suppose to be covering was a DD class (I think that means developmentally delayed? Not sure, no one told me), but they were off on a field trip so I was just floating into different classes who could use a helping hand.
I was put into a grade 2 class that afternoon, and the teacher was showing a movie. Great I thought, I’m just going to have to sit here and watch this movie in a small uncomfortable blue chair. But nopes, the classroom teacher was doing assessments at the same time and she needed me to sit with one of her students and have him complete a work page for her to mark.
She handed me the paper, along with a box of pencil crayons. “I just need him to colour the page” she said. “But make sure he uses the correct colours, and colours within the lines. Have a conversation with him over each colour he chooses, why is he choosing that colour, and is it appropriate for what he is colouring.”
I thought this was a little bit random. But I am not there to judge, I am a supply teacher, therefore I pretty much have to pimp myself out to contract teachers (another reason why I left teaching). If they like my personality and how I mesh with their class, they can request me later on. I leave lots of notes, great. I mark their work for them, even better. I tidy up their class so it’s better than when I come in? FANTASTIC! I have to send their kids to the principal’s office cos they literally whipped a book across the room at some kid’s head? Yeah, no thanks, we’ll go with a different teacher next time.
I leave business cards in staff rooms, on desks, with ECE’s and EA’s just hoping that someone will be all “oo yes, we LOVED her, have her back!” ECE’s and EA’s are great for this – and were part of the reason why I got called back into certain classrooms because they talked me up to the teacher.
So I sit down in a little blue chair at the little grade 2 desks with this boy. I tell him what I am expecting from him and we get started. He chooses “appropriate” colours (green for frogs, red for the lady bugs, peach for skin tone etc) but his narrative was so much better! He was using this colour because that was the “proper” colour BUT he wanted to use purple because he felt that this frog was having a purple day.
This kid, I tell ya, he’s going places.
Anyways, my point is: what’s the freaking point!?
If this kid wants to express his creativity by making his person have a blue face, because he feels like, in this picture, this person is sad? Let him! Sure it’s a boy and he’s wearing a pink shirt and pink pants – his favourite colour is pink? Awesome! Mine too!
I really just saw this activity as a way to squash whatever creativity and freedom was in this child. The teacher making him do a work page over again, instead of watching a movie with the rest of the class. How completely horrible this kid must have felt. He misses out on the special activity because his teacher didn’t like how he coloured his page the first time.
Just one of the reasons I left teaching….