How Being a Connected Educator Killed My Career: The Critical Truth I Missed

How Being a Connected Educator Killed My Career: The Critical Truth I Missed

It was a sweaty June afternoon in the middle of 2008. I just about felt unwound from my fifth year of teaching.

I was making plans to revamp my class website. I had been on this Facebook thing that everyone kept talking about for a few months. And I had my very first smartphone—a Blackberry Curve. I felt all technological and connected. It felt pretty good. Pret-ty goood.

It Begins and Promptly Fizzles

I heard some chatter about Twitter on the BlackBerry forum I posted on. I sort of knew what it was. Micro blogging is what Twitter called it back then. I imagined very tiny people typing on very tiny computers. It seemed interesting. So I bit and signed up

It was fun at first. I read tweets, posted dumb jokes, and generally just wasted time.

I spent hours one day searching for people I knew. The only person I found was a guy named Jack. Jack Squat. Twitter in 2008 wasn’t what it is now. This was way before just about everyone and their house plants had a Twitter account.

Meh.

I don’t think I got a single reply from anything I posted that month. I barely got a response from anyone I tried to chat with. Disillusionment promptly set in, and I all but abandoned Twitter.

Then, about a year later, everything changed.

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5 Reasons Why I’ll Always Be a Man in Progress

5 Reasons Why I’ll Always Be a Man in Progress

I've had a whole month of not being a classroom teacher. I'm still not sure how I feel about that. The school bell rings, even without me there to hear it. Reading and writing are taught, even without me doing it. Students' lives are impacted, and school goes on with or without me.

That's fine. I'm getting comfortable with that. I just miss it.

If you've been around this site long enough, you may have realized I did away with the old tag line. I started this blog in January of 2010. I've moved things around, had new hosting, and a few redesigns. This summer I got serious about it and purchased my own domain name. I made a major redesign and moved it to Squarespace

But in every iteration of this website, I've always had the same tag line:  

Learning and reflection from a teacher in progress

Only now I'm not a teacher anymore—not in the usual sense of the word. So I took it off. I didn't think it was going to be a big deal, but it was.

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And I Walk Away, or How I Finally Decided to Quit Teaching

And I Walk Away, or How I Finally Decided to Quit Teaching

“Teaching is a high pressure and stress filled profession, Justin. Lots of people just aren't cut out for it.”

My principal's words were salt in an open wound. They cut deep. And they hurt. They hurt because I knew he was right. The after school conversation was not what I had hoped.

It all started last spring when my depression was getting worse. The stress at school and home kept mounting. I knew I wasn't feeling like myself. My medicine wasn't working like it used to. I was feeling terrible and waking up sad more and more frequently. I knew things were not going well.

Then I got the e-mail from my principal.

 

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My Biggest Failure as a Teacher

My Biggest Failure as a Teacher

I can’t be that teacher to every student.

It took me a while to learn that. It’s easy to buy into the Hollywood super teacher mentality. It’s alluring and sexy. It’s exciting and makes for a great screen play. It’s also complete fiction.

I had my biggest failure as a teacher this year. It wasn’t failing to get my report cards done on time. Although I’ve done that. It wasn’t losing a kid on a field trip. Although I’ve done that too. It wasn’t setting off the school alarm and having a subsequent conversation with district security. Again, I’ve been there. It wasn’t even forgetting to put a kid’s picture in the school yearbook. Guilty again.

This time was a biggie.

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She Smelled of Feet

She Smelled of Feet

She smelled of feet. A perfectly normal five year old otherwise. She just smelled like feet. I would go on to realize that many kids had a distinct odor. Sometimes nice like fruity shampoo or laundry detergent. Sometimes not like ashtrays or feet.

It was her shoes. Or rather, her sockless feet inside of her shoes that produced the smell. They were a flat, brown situation with a single velcro strap. In my naiveté, I wondered why her parents just didn’t buy her more shoes. Like I said, a sweet girl otherwise. 

There was a natural curiosity about her that only a kindergartener possesses. Constant questions were all part of a normal day. A child’s eyes see things that adult eyes cannot. Children haven’t yet been spoiled by the can’ts and doesn’ts.

There was an underlying sadness behind her tentative smiles. It was like the sun struggling to come around from behind an ominous cloud. I wouldn’t put my finger on it until much later in the year.

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The Voice of a Classroom

The Voice of a Classroom

What’s the voice of your classroom?

Every classroom has one. Obviously, there’s a literal voice that rises and falls with the ebb and flow of the day. The pin drop silence of independent reading quickly gives way to the verbal avalanche of group work. On any given day there is bound to be laughter, questions, silence, crying, cheering, complaining, whispering, and more questions.

But that’s not exactly what I’m talking about.

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