In case we’ve never met, allow me to introduce myself as a professional educator and 20+ year veteran homeschool parent. I homeschooled my kids all the way to college, and I remain a passionate advocate for home education and parental rights, working, writing, and, speaking to families coast to coast. I was a college professor for many years, then certified as a school teacher some years later. I have probably spent time in every kind of classroom setting you can imagine. At one point, I even mentored new teachers, too.
My classroom experiences, combined with research and my own instincts are what led me to chose home education for my own children. I eventually left traditional schoolrooms altogether. I couldn’t be part of that malfunctioning (read: harmful) system any more.
I have never looked back on my decision not to send my children to traditional school.
I encourage everyone who feels the same way to make the same decision I did.
When I wrote the article “Why I Quit Teaching” in 2014, I never imagined the response it would get. I wrote it partly to vent my frustration and partly to explain to readers why I left (especially the parents of children in my classes who might be reading). But, mostly, I wrote it for all the other frustrated teachers, frustrated parents, frustrated administrators, and a generally frustrated public — people who might need to read it, people fed up with the state of traditional education, people wondering if they were the only ones thinking there was something terribly wrong.
I wanted people who read my article to understand how difficult / tiring / thankless teaching really is, and how little good teachers can do anything about it.
I wanted people who read my article to understand how hard I tried to make a difference, but how powerless I was, how powerless all teachers are, to do what our hearts originally called us to do.
I wanted people who read the article to know there is something terribly wrong. Worse, that there isn’t anything they can do to change it.
Since writing that post, I’ve received SO. MANY. EMAILS. More than I can count now. Some left comments under the article itself, but most write directly to my Inbox. I read the emails with chills, my eyes welling with tears of empathy and understanding. I write back with as much support as I can muster, as I too experienced many of those same feelings at one time, too.
Though the article is now 2 years old, I continue receiving letters from frustrated teachers about once a week. I can only imagine how many other teachers think of writing to me, or writing to someone else, or speaking out about what they’re going through.
Emails have come from all parts of the country:
“I am a teacher in Texas and have reached that breaking point. I read your article about you quitting and never going back. I feel I am at that point. “
“I’m in Florida and completely understand what you wrote. Your article brought me to tears because of the similarity to my own situation. I finally feel understood.”
“In Michigan it’s the same thing. My colleagues and I are so bunched up in knots over what they’re asking us to do. It’s like we can’t even teach any more.”
From all kinds of teachers:
“I am a new teacher with an assignment to teach two sections of English I and five sections of remediation English in high school. I went into teaching because I love education and partly because I wanted to make an impact… Most of my students despise me and I hate the profession. I am lost and it has only been eight weeks.”
“I am a student teacher and already I’m rethinking my decision to go into this profession. What I’ve seen in the few classrooms I’ve worked have already left me wanting to run in the other direction.”
“I have been teaching for almost 20 years and I am at my breaking point. I used to love my work and felt I was making a big difference. Things have changed so much over the last 20-something years. This is not the job I originally signed up for…”
With all kinds of questions, worries, and frustrations:
“It seems unprofessional but I honestly want to quit and get out asap with little notice. I don’t know if I can even take two more weeks. I have found myself in such a pit of depression I barely want to eat, shower, or get out of bed and no job should ever make you feel that way. I need out now.”
“Quitting is not an option. I search the Internet for ways to help my students but nothing is taken seriously. Is there any way to incorporate a few aspects of the home school model into the public education system?”
“The work load and stress the rest of the year is simply not worth it. I…have to worry about another special education student hitting another student or throwing something at my stomach while I’m pregnant and nothing being done because the rules are different for him.”
“I’ve started applying for corporate jobs as a professional trainer/curriculum designer and I’m hoping I get on somewhere soon because we need the income (I just can’t stay in the school system anymore). I’ve also thought about teaching online college courses or maybe making crafts and selling on Etsy or similar sites. “
“I am going through a mixture of emotions right now: disappointment: I have put forth so much time, money, and energy to become and be a teacher and had such high hopes of what it would be but it is nothing close to what I wanted.”
I personally respond to as many as I can. Sometimes, the teachers and I correspond for a period of time.
I try to create a container where these people can get their thoughts out. Because there really isn’t anything I can do, I can’t make recommendations for or about them. How could I? I don’t know any of these people or their situations.
But, at least I feel I can provide a listening ear. So, I devote 30 minutes a week or so to replying to teachers who write to me about quitting.
Had you any idea our nation’s teachers were suffering in this way?
Were you aware how helpless, hopeless and misunderstood many teachers actually feel?
In case you weren’t, I figured I’d let you know. Looking back now, I know that was one of the most important posts I ever wrote.
Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau is a college professor who traded in her tenure to become a homeschool mom 20+ years ago. A homeschooling pioneer and the founder of many groups and organizations, she works to advance home education, and is an outspoken supporter of education reform coast to coast. Her book, Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in Two Weeks, is industry-acclaimed as it illustrates how homeschooling can rescue children and families from the public school system, and how anyone can begin homeschooling within a limited time-frame, with no teaching background whatsoever. A writer, a homeschool leader, and a women’s life coach, Marie-Claire mentors in a variety of areas that impact health, education and lifestyle. A conference speaker, she has appeared at FPEA, H.E.R.I., Home Education Council of America, The Luminous Mind, Vintage Homeschool Moms, iHomeschool Network, and many other events. Her articles have appeared in and on Holistic Parenting, CONNECT,Homefires, Homemaking Cottage, Kiwi, Circle of Moms, and hundreds of sites and blogs nationwide. Marie-Claire can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.