Dear Teacher Who Was Pink Slipped
Dear Teacher Who Was Pink Slipped,
I have a confession to make. I wasn’t always the teacher I am today. In 1996, I got my dream job: kindergarten! Newly out of college, I was going to change the world and TEACH. I was scared and excited all at the same time. Remembering that year and that first class, it never occurred to me at the time to think about politics or making certain people happy. All I cared about were my students and their families. I felt like if they were happy and learning, then I was good.
Enthusiastic would be the word I’d use to describe myself that year. I smile when I think about how I taught that year. People say I’m an overachiever now, they should have seen me then. We made space helmets for all my students along with paper vests. My class painted rocks and designed egg carriers. We danced and sang ALL the time. I loved every one of those kids.
The thing I didn’t realize is everyone was watching. They watched when I did my own thing. Teachers said, “oh, she’s young, she’ll learn.” They hated my enthusiasm. I felt like I was changing the world. In reality, I wasn’t making friends.
And then IT happened
The last week of school I was asked to come into the office. The principal handed me a letter and said, “Sometimes what a person needs is a new start.” When she handed me the envelope, I knew what it was and my heart broke. To make matters worse, my students’ parents rallied for me. They went to the board to demand I be rehired. Looking back, I see that was probably the worst thing that could have been done. No school board wants to hear they made a mistake.
I remember at some point being in the lunchroom and sitting alone. It’s a feeling I will never forget. Blindsided is how I felt, thinking things were one way when in reality they weren’t that way at all. I didn’t think I would ever get over leaving that job. I swore I’d never teach again.
The next year, I took a job at a museum as their in-house educator. I enjoyed working and teaching classes that came through daily. After a while, though, I realized it wasn’t enough. I needed MY class. After a year out of school, I got up, dusted myself off, and started interviewing with schools. I got a job at the end of the summer.
Teaching again was wonderful, but what happened at my other school had left me guarded. I wouldn’t allow myself to get close to anyone (other than my students). Being pink slipped changed me. I became less open and trusting of other teachers. Recently I was presenting and a teacher came up and said she thought she knew me. I realized after a moment that I had worked with her at that first school. THE SCHOOL that broke my heart. I’m sure I smiled and exchanged pleasantries, but the whole time I was feeling that same feeling I felt 21 years ago. Insecurity set in and I was thrown.
I have a Master’s Degree, 21 years’ teaching experience, and my National Board Certification. I’ve presented nationally. I have been featured in magazines and on TV for my TpT success. I don’t say those things to brag. Why then? No matter how successful I may be, that experience still hurts and makes me second guess myself.
I write all this because I want you to know that you are a good teacher. Sometimes things don’t work out. That doesn’t mean they never will. The students I have taught have given me more happiness than I can express. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. That’s how I know that other school was wrong. I
was am a good teacher. You cannot let what others feel about you to define you or your teaching. Work hard, love your students, and do what is best for your classroom. Things will get better. Don’t give up on your dream just because others don’t get you or it.