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Reflections of a Former Classroom Teacher

Posted By: Stuart Robertson on December 7, 2007
It was quite interesting to read this article at this point in my professional life. Two weeks ago I left teaching in a public elementary school for a training position in a corporate setting. I was in my twenty-fourth year of teaching. As I was reading, I was reflecting on my reason for leaving. It was not the salary that finally led to the decision to leave; it was the working conditions. We were in our third year with a principal that had never been a classroom teacher. Her only experience with elementary students had come during her student teaching in special education. Further, she had never worked with first and second grade.
One of her major goals was to have all teachers on the “same page.” She wanted to make sure that regardless of the classroom in which a student was placed, their experience would be exactly the same. To achieve this, the teachers had to make their teaching compatible with that of the most mediocre teacher. Although I was able to use multiple data sources to show that my students were successful I was consistently told that other teachers could not do what I do and that twins put in different classrooms should have the same experience. One example of this is that I was teaching a standards-based mathematics program combining problem-solving and discussion, as well as direct instruction, and my students consistently scored proficient or above on our state tests. I was told that this is the last year I can use this program; next year I would have to be in the basal with everyone else and matching what they do. For me, this was a major step backwards.

This, ultimately, was the final action that confirmed my decision to leave teaching. Having my professional freedom taken away without student data to support the decision made the environment uncomfortable.
I believe that this case also highlights how the working conditions for principals have become so difficult that, in order to fill positions, less than qualified applicants are sometimes selected. Not only do we need the best and the brightest teachers in the classroom with the students, we need the best and the brightest educational leaders working with these teachers to create the optimal learning environment for the students.
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 Reflections of a Former Classroom Teacher by Stuart Robertson on December 7, 2007
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