I watch the news daily and I always feel a mixture of sadness and relief. When watching the coverage on budget cuts causing teachers to receive pink slips, I know my heart is spilt. One half pining to be in a classroom again, the other glad I left such a challenging and insecure profession.
It was my choice to leave. I had had enough. Enough drama. Enough inconsistency. Enough feeling worthless in the eyes of the administration. Enough feeling that my heart was not loving my job to give my students what they deserved.
I taught for 10 years. The first five were strictly preschool in a private school, I taught 3 year olds and PRE-K. I had great kids, great supportive teachers, amazing co-teachers and I worked hard to earn rank in my little private domain. However, I made crap money. This was before a licensed permit was needed to teach but I was in school the whole time. I tried to fit classes in to finish and working another part-time job to make rent. I was in my early 20's. I made 18,500 a year.
Later on, I was given a golden opportunity to quit and make more money doing work as a law clerk. It was fun, at first then it got real heavy and I pined to return to teaching. I kicked myself for leaving. My pay was crap but I was appreciated by my parents and staff. My boss liked me. I made a huge mistake.
I decided to try and return to teaching at the same private school but in a different city. Loaded with a recommendation letter from my previous boss, I hoped for another opportunity. A handshake and a tour of the school gave a glimmer of hope. I'm back where I belong, I thought. That glimmer faded real fast.
The school was "overstaffed" and I was told I'd be a floater until a spot opened up for me. I didn't care, I was teaching. I knew I had to earn my rank again. I was willing to put in my dues.
Floating in preschool, right? Oh so wrong. The school had me in classroom after classroom. I was placed in one room for a day and in the middle of singing a song with the children, the teacher I was subbing for accused me of "turning the kids against her". When I tried to make the situation right, she marched up to the administrator and tried to get me fired since I clearly had "no respect for the tenured teachers"
I was moved. To the middle school class.
I had no middle school experience but was placed with another teacher. What was supposed to be a new experience teaching became a TA position and lower pay. I started at 25,000. They dropped me down to 8.50 an hour. To add insult to injury, I was forced to sub other classes and get paid no more for the day. Other subs would receive $20/ hour for the same work. The difference was clearly their education over mine. But when no sub could be found, they moved me from the middle school to the classes that needed a sub.
I figured I'd fight fire with fire and start up classes at night and take my CBEST. That way I'd at least have my education to merit a better pay. Then my decision to leave showed up in front of me one day. A girl out of high school was in the break room. She gloated about receiving 15$/ hour for sub work with no college education under her belt.
I grabbed my purse, walked into the admin's office, turned in my resignation and left. I cried as I walked toward my car. It wasn't my education, it was me. Clearly, I wasted 5 years.
After that I started working in coffee houses, building my skills, getting promoted and eventually bringing me to Starbucks front door. I was a difficult decision. I mean I only knew how to teach. Somehow, the sadness of leaving teaching quickly left me when I saw what type of support I received from the company. Working retail and teaching children couldn't be farther from the spectrum. Feeling worthwhile in your job has no limitation. Teaching or retail, you deserve to know you are appreciated. How sad, though, that I felt 100x more worthy selling coffee and making lattes for Starbucks than teaching children and preparing them for the future in that school.
I was quickly promoted from barista to store manager and I've been running my own store for over 4 years now. The amount I make in comparison to what I did teaching is almost triple.
I know that if I'd finished up my education I would've been making more when I started teaching. I could've worked for a public school but really, would've been better? Maybe. Maybe not.
All I do know is that given the situation that happened at the second school, more money would not have meant more happiness. My situation is clearly my own but teacher friends of mine have told me that in public schools things are not necessarily easy either. One thing they do have in common is that they're scared. Private school or public, it's the same thing. Without the support of the administrators, you're sunk.