Sun | May 28, 2017

Tired teacher wants to quit classroom

Published:Sunday | November 23, 2014 | 11:00 AM
Glenford Smith
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Glenford Smith, Career Writer

QUESTION: I could identify with your Sunday, November 9 Careers article, 'I walked off my job in frustration'. I'm a teacher who has been in the classroom for more than 15 years. However, I'm now tired and want to quit. I've become frustrated and unmotivated because of the children's attitude. Most show no respect. They lack decorum. And too many show an appalling disinterest in learning. What do you advise? -

- Teach

Thanks for reading the Gleaner Careers section, first of all. Let me also say thanks on behalf of all the students you've impacted in over 15 years of dedicated service.

Even at an extremely conservative estimate of 30 students per class, and assuming three classes a year, that's 1,350 lives you've directly impacted. That's phenomenal.

I believe many teachers will share your frustration. Many have echoed your concerns to me. There are more things you didn't even mention - pay, for instance. It's generally accepted that teachers are not the best paid professionals, which must be a factor for you as well.

Also, the demands on teachers' time don't end when schools dismiss. Many have to mark books and prepare lesson plans at home, often leaving them physically and mentally exhausted.

They have little time and energy left for family or personal recreation. These are merely some of the stark realities teachers face.

I raise those issues to suggest that no one could reasonably blame you for wanting to quit. If you decide that enough is enough, that's perfectly understandable.

However, your frustration could also be considered as a function of your mental focus and your own attitude, as well. In other words, you don't have to just focus on lackadaisical students. There are undoubtedly serious, diligent, and motivated students as well. They need you.

That doesn't mean you ignore the idlers totally - just don't let them set your agenda nor define your teaching experience.

If you decide to quit for the reason you've given, it may be an admission that you feel helpless. It may be suggesting that you don't believe you have the power to make a difference anymore.

Teachers - and parents, for that matter - have two of the most important leadership roles in society. They have to be selfless, sacrificial and people of faith. Faith in their power to influence, and in children's capacity to learn and change. Perhaps that fact has something to do with why teaching is called the noblest profession.

Teachers and parents are called upon to change or influence lives for the better, often despite the students' or children's rebellion, ignorance and apathy. That's what leadership is: influence. As children's attitudes worsen, they need more exemplars of decorum, respect, discipline and compassion - people like you.

Many highly successful professionals today attribute their success to one or two teachers. They testify on interview programmes, in books, or private conversations that were it not for a teacher who showed them patience, understanding and inspired them with self-belief, they wouldn't have made it in life.

Perhaps you can continue to be such a teacher for many more students.

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'. Email glenfordsmith@yahoo.com.