Kindergarten teacher, Jessica Gentry, 34, a mother of one, from Harrisonburg, Virginia, left her job as a teacher after 12 years of teaching at Stone Spring Elementary School and revealed her many reasons on a now viral Facebook post on Thursday, June 13.
A few of her many reasons for quitting was lack of help from her students' parents, having to use technology to teach, and the constant feeling of believing that the 'kids deserve better.' She believed that the current way of parenting has changed the way children are viewing the world and behaving. She doesn't think kids have changed at all... simply because kids will be kids, rather, they're just victims of parenting styles and society. Between parents working long hours, using electronic devices, and dealing with co-parenting situations, she believes that these things are causing kids to have an altered upbringing. She feels that even well-behaved kids are throwing tantrums at home because they feel "safe" there, while there are kids flipping tables at school because they have no place at home to throw a tantrum. For some kids, the classroom environment is the first place they've been given boundaries and have ever been told "no."
She partly blames technology for playing a role, and feels that it doesn't help when the school has started focusing more on using technology to help teach students. Why is this bad? Gentry believes that the constant use of technology diminishes relationship building and hands-on learning on a basic level. Kids are having a harder time reading social cues and handling themselves in general social settings.
Gentry feels that parents aren't being held accountable for their children which forces teachers to approach the situation with a 'customer service mindset' when communicating with her students' parents. She was once cussed out by a parent who wanted to go on a school field trip but had missed the memo after it was sent home three times. She mentioned that the parents that did attend the field trips were usually on their phones the entire time. On top of all this, she's even had parents get mad at her for not offering after-school programs and for telling their children "no" during class!
She constantly voiced to staff members that she needed more support but was simply was told by co-workers not to 'lose sleep' over it. It hurt her to see some of her students arrive to school in dirty clothes, to have to balance time and efforts with students who had disabilities and language needs; add it all up and it really started to affect her personal well being. After realizing that she couldn't help her students if she wasn't able to help her mental and physical self, she knew it was time to leave behind her retirement fund, paid sick leave and just QUIT.
After quitting her job as a teacher, Gentry is now a lifestyle coach for other teachers and assists by creating wellness plans to help them cope with stressful classroom situations. She also spends more time at home raising her daughter.
Here's Jessica Gentry's (now viral) Facebook post:
Let me tell you why those who ooze passion for teaching are leaving the occupation like their hair is on fire....
1. The old excuse "the kids have changed". No. No friggin way. Kids are kids. PARENTING has changed. SOCIETY has changed. The kids are just the innocent victims of that. Parents are working crazy hours, consumed by their devices, leaving kids in unstable parenting/coparenting situations, terrible media influences... and we are going to give the excuse that the KIDS have changed? What did we expect them to do? Kids behave in undesirable ways in the environment they feel safest. They test the water in the environment that they know their mistakes and behaviors will be treated with kindness and compassion. For those "well behaved" kids--they're throwing normal kid tantrums at home because it's safe. The kids flipping tables at school? They don't have a safe place at home. Our classrooms are the first place they've ever heard 'no', been given boundaries, shown love through respect. Cue "the kids have changed".
2. In the midst of all of this... our response is we need to be "21st Century" schools. 1 to 1 student to technology. Oh. Okay. So forget the basics of relationship building and hands on learning. Kids already can't read social cues and conduct themselves appropriately in social settings... let's toss more devices at them because it looks good on our website. During an interview, one division asked me "how are you with technology? That's important to us". Uhhh... I hear Bobo the chimpanzee is pretty tech savvy... I consider myself pretty great with kids.
3. And since our technology approach doesn't seem to be working, teachers must need more training. So take away two planning periods a week. And render that time utterly worthless when it comes to ADDING to the quality of the instruction. Just this year, a new math assessment was introduced for K teachers. We had to attend a training on a school day (time missed with students) then it took us THREE WEEKS to administer it... one on one... to 21 students. Such. A. Waste. All of the info I could have told you about them without taking away from precious instructional time..
4. Instead of holding parents accountable... and making them true partners, we've adopted a customer service mindset. I've seen the Facebook rants about attendance and getting "the letter". Well, here's the thing... I can't teach your child if he's not in school. I was cussed out by parents who wanted to attend field trips but missed the THREE notes that went home--and when they did attend a trip, sat on their phone the entire time. I've had parents stand me up multiple times on Conference Days then call to tattle on me when I refused to offer an after school option. I've had parents tell me that I'm not allowed to tell their child 'no'....
5. My mental and physical health was in jeopardy every.single.day. Knowing that your kids need and deserve more than they're getting. Sitting in one meeting after another, begging for more support, only to be told 'don't lose sleep over them'... when you LOVE your kids and are PASSIONATE about your mission... these messages tear you apart. Watching them come in... dirty clothes... chaos at home... and knowing they need more than you can give them in a classroom of 21, with less and less support, multple [sic] languages spoken, several different disabilities... it breaks you. We become emotional eaters. We become couch potatoes to zone out. We become so short fused that our families suffer.
So... that's why..
I finally realized... you can't save them all. You can't even help 21 if you aren't healthy yourself. If your mental and physical health aren't a focus, you aren't even good for the 21..
I left my retirement fund... my paid sick leave (46 days left on the table, unpaid). I didn't leave for better pay..
I decided to start with my 1 at home... and work to help other mommas be able to show up for their ones at home. Because... I really do believe it starts there. I found something that allows me to impact the environments that those 21 go home to. I found something that I can make an impact with... that doesn't leave my tank empty, rendering me useless for others..
I may have left the classroom... but I am still advocating for those kiddos. It just looks different now.