Quietly Quitting

This past week I was on fall break, similar to Spring Break, just in the fall season.

Anyway, I didn’t go anywhere. I got my flu and updated COVID booster shots, and I rested. You see, I’m a teacher, and it was much needed. We began the school year in August, and it already seems like we’ve been in school for an entire year. It’s not about the school I’m at, but it seems like, across the country, it’s clear that educators are feeling the effects of the post-pandemic fallout.

With this being the last day of fall break, I’m in a contemplative mood: I’m thinking about quitting.

I have mixed emotions because I’ve been teaching since the 1990s. I’ve had some outstanding students whom I will not forget – but my excitement for teaching is depleting. I’m not sure what has happened to my enthusiasm, but there are a few hints.

First, I believe it’s when officials decide what to teach and how to teach. While in my doctoral program, I researched how teacher autonomy is necessary for schools to engage students. If teachers are motivated, then students will be encouraged. However, when teachers are told how to teach by those who have forgotten what it is like in the classroom, it becomes frustrating!

I get tired of hearing, “You’re the expert,” and then getting treated like one of the students.

I want to quit. I’d like the music from the Exodus to follow me down the hallway at school as I turn in my keys, walk out into the parking lot, get into my car and drive away into a future where I will…

Where I will…

And that’s the issue. What can I do? I was a former journalist and taught English Language Arts for years, and I don’t want to be a journalist anymore. I’ve combed the Internet about what former English teachers can do.

Curriculum Developers. Educational Consultants. Adult Education instructors.

Yeah. I’ve thought about becoming an educational consultant, but that takes a lot of work (not that I’m afraid of work). I have to find that niche that educators would want to know and learn.

I worked as an adult education instructor at the local community college and enjoyed it. This is a position I found very rewarding because the students were eager to learn, and they wanted to get their GED to improve their employment prospects.

I’m 57 years old. I am not slowing down because I am researching a big project in education, and I am excited about it; however, I believe that starting a new job would be futile in this case. I read an article about people who are “quietly quitting,” and I think I am flowing in this realm.

Quiet quitters are disengaged employees, and according to an article written by Jim Harter last month for Workplace on Gallup.com, about 50% of the U.S. workforce are quiet quitters. The reason behind this trend is that jobs require extra effort to meet the company’s and customers’ needs (Harter, 2022). In the case of education, there is this invisible push to make students achieve on assessments. I am not sure if money is involved in getting students over the “pandemic gap” or what, but getting students to bring a pencil and a notebook to class is a struggle. No joke!

Most people who find out I’m a teacher either thank or pity me, and sometimes they do both. These people who understand the struggle know that we are battling several elements: government, administrative decisions, students, parents, and our hearts. Teaching is an art we love and enjoy, but when you throw bureaucratic crap into the mix, it gets clunky, messy, and confusing!

“Teach but make sure you assess (it’s testing)them frequently!” Why don’t I stop teaching and just test them daily? If I do that, they will get better at the assessment, and it will be shiny and beautiful data to display to the government!

Yes. Quietly quitting. Harter wrote, “Actively disengaged employees tend to have most of their workplace needs unmet and spread their dissatisfaction” (2022). Some teachers constantly complain (even in earshot of students who are not professional), teachers who aggressively want to be on top or in charge (what they don’t know is that it’s not that glamorous), and their dissatisfaction spreads to the students.

What a mess!

So I’m imagining that you’re thinking, “Tell your principals! Talk to the district!” Yeah.

They’ll tell us, “It’s not one more thing,” or “Take care of yourselves.” Thank you.

I want to ask them, “Do you really care about us? Do you really believe we can do our jobs without these additional programs that we (the teachers) need to execute?” After this alarming pandemic that disrupted student learning, we need quiet. Remember the calm after the storm? Where’s the peace? What happened to that?

Oh, readers! I’m a full-time fan of education, specifically when it comes to my subject – engaging students to love literature and writing. But we teachers must take a hard left and address anxieties, disabilities, and complex home lives (and that’s not only about the students either). On top of that, we have implemented traffic such as new programs and constant assessment.

Therefore, as I write this, my desire to get these students to enjoy reading and learn how to correctly write reminds me of why I want to teach. Programs are from competing companies who wish to have the money. The funny thing is that I didn’t ask for anything “new.” I want to teach without any type of additional program or an additional assessment. I believe I’m a good teacher. I’ve had students come back and tell me about how they read a particular book in college that we read in their high school class. Or, they remember working on group projects or writing quick writes (short responses) that they had to do in college. They do not reflect the programs and remember the extra assessments with disdain.

I’m going to stick with it. Hopefully, our voices will be heard before I retire in five to 10 years. In the meantime, I will be quietly quitting.

Harter, J. (2022). Is Quiet Quitting Real? Workplace from, https://www.gallup.com/workplace/398306/quiet-quitting-real.aspx

Author: L.S. Watson

Hi. My name is L.S. Watson, and I'm an English teacher at a charter high school. I enjoy traveling (my favorite places are Rome and Paris), writing poetry, and watching documentaries. I have a lovable yet stubborn Yorkie-Poo named Chuy.

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