Seven years? Seven years in a 30+ career is not a very long time. In fact, that’s less time than Barack Obama’s presidency, the same amount of years as The Walking Dead has been on TV and just about as long as Instagram has been around. See, I told you it’s not a very long amount of time.
Seven years is also the same amount of time it took me to fall in love, get married and have my first child. It’s also the same amount of time it took me to experience a severe depression and over come it, discover I have generalized anxiety disorder and later to experience Postpartum depression and again over come it. Seriously, that’s 2 rounds of depression in 2 years to be exact. It’s also the same amount of time it took me realize that teachers are just a cog in a machine who are not supported by the government and shall I say some administrators/superintendents. Seven years is the amount of time it took me to decide I had enough of the system and I wanted out. It took me 7 years to finally take the leap of faith and leave behind my “safe” career. You know that career that offered me benefits, a pension retirement, and “good” pay for having “summers off”.
Here are the main reasons, I decided to take the jump and get out while I could.
- To Be Present in my Daughter’s Life
If you are a parent than I’m sure you can relate to what I am about to say, once you become a parent, your view on life suddenly changes. You become a totally different person in how you see the world, your life, etc. This is exactly what happened to me. After the birth of my daughter, I wanted to be the one to raising her (not a day care provider). Please don’t misconstrue what I am saying… there is nothing wrong with daycare or being a working mom. After all, I provide day care services to many working moms at my nursery school and I love what I do now. However, I wanted to be more present in my daughters life.
2. Believing There is a Better Way for our Children
I am a big fan of authors/speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Tony Wagner, and Sir Ken Robinson who all have a different outlook on education. After reading and listening to them speak, I started to realize that public school is not how I wanted my own daughter educated or how I want teach. I have seen first hand way too many kiddos who feel they don’t fit in to the system and will never amount to anything simply because the don’t preform well on the standardized tests or just aren’t “book smart”. I’ve witnessed Kindergarteners being “forced” to read and write well before they are developmentally ready, watched play and recess be taken right out of schools and suffered from boredom right along with my kiddos as they experienced boring, scripted curriculums that is of zero interest to them….. Oh and then get into “trouble” for not doing the boring packet of worksheets that go with it. Hey, I was bored teaching and assisting with the lessons, then it’s probably safe to say some of the kiddos had ZERO interest in the lessons as well. I honestly wouldn’t want to do the stupid packets or would even find myself drifting off to day dream land too.
This is the exact opposite of the type of education I want for my kiddos. I want them to PLAY and explore different things in order to help them discover their own passions. I want them to be fired up about learning including reading, writing and math by using those passions to teach them the skills they need. They don’t need “packets” or lectures about topics that don’t interest them, they need technology, Blogs/Vlogs, Apps, YouTube, books (and by books, I don’t mean textbooks per say), and real life exposures and experiences to be their teachers. I want them to find problems and become problem solvers, follow their dreams, be individuals, and most importantly, discover their purpose for life here on this earth and DO THAT! And guess what? Public School, right now will not provide this for them, but I can. So I left.
3. Teaching is NOT a supported Career
Teachers are the most giving people I know, at least the ones I have worked with have all been. They give themselves to their careers. They work long hours (often away from their own families), become mothers, nurses, counselors, and so much more to each of their students, and they are passionate people for both learning and kids. However, they are not always supported. Mainly by the government which I’m sure most people are already aware, but did you know even some of the times they are not supported by their own admins.
This is especially true if the teacher experiences any form of mental illness. During my short 7 years of teaching, I, myself, experienced two rounds of depression and both times did not feel supported by my own admins. The first incident of depression was in fact triggered by my admin who targeted me for not doing things as she saw as perfect. There is already enough stress on teachers to “preform” well because of the new standards of teacher evals set forth by the government. When you add that pressure to be “effective”, manage your class including teaching and behavior, add in an admin who offers ZERO support to a teacher in a new role, and then add in someone who has generalized anxiety disorder into the mix…. Guess what? You have a recipe for disaster.
The next incident happened after the birth of my daughter, when I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety. I was struggling returning to work after my 12 week maternity leave. I knew my daughter was in good hands with the family who were watching her while I was at work, but I still worried not stop. I wanted to be home with her and I worried a LOT about what I was missing at home with her. I couldn’t focus on “work” when my mind was full of worry and focused on getting home. It came to a point that I had discussion with my administrator about my performance and rightly so…. I was struggling. However, at the moment when I felt I was being penalized for being a MOM which was the very moment….. I felt I was reprimanded for not choosing work over wanting to be home with my new born daughter, I made up my mind right then there that I had enough. What kind of career makes you feel horrible for being a new mom and wanting to be home with your new born baby…. Well whatever kind of career it is, I wanted out of it. I got back into my counselor, got myself straightened around for both myself and my daughter and played their little game until the end of the school year and then I LEFT for good!
So you see…. Public School teaching for me personally has not been the best career choice as a person who experiences depression and anxiety. In fact, it has done the very opposite. It taught me exactly the opposite of how I want my life to be and how I want my own children educated. It’s a broken system that is need of desperate transformation, reformation, repair or whatever choice of word you want to put in there. What I know is it is not for me and I don’t regret my decision in the slightest. I miss my wonderful co-workers and helping the kiddos the best I could, but now I have total freedom and to me that freedom is priceless. I am free to be me. Free to raise and educate my children how I feel best. Free from anxiety and depressions caused from the stress. FREE! <3
I’m Melissa Dow, M.ED. I am a wife, mama of 2 and a bonus mama of 1. A former public school educator with 7 years of experience in both special education and general education who is on a new journey to help parents guide their children to uncover their true passions in order to find their life purpose. I love spending time out in nature whether hiking, running, camping, canoeing or just playing in our backyard (aka our outdoor classroom). I also enjoy reading, learning new things, organic gardening and creating our a simple life.