Most teachers have a simple goal; to educate and inspire today’s youth. However, many teachers feel trapped by a challenge-ridden and outdated system that hinders their ability to be effective in the classroom. Michelle Maile is a first-grade teacher who decided to resign, and her five-point explanation for her decision went viral.
Maile took to Facebook to detail why she – a celebrated educator working in a good school district – decided to leave her classroom behind at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
“I just closed the door to my beloved first grade classroom, walked to the office and turned in my keys,” Maile began in her post. “No, it’s not just for the summer. I’m not coming back.”
“Why would a teacher of the year nominee, who loves what she does, who has the best team, the best students and parents, and was lucky enough to be at the best elementary school not want to come back? Let me tell you why….”
Maile then went on to explain the reasoning behind her decision. She began with the class sizes.
“Everything in my training, what I know about kids and what I see every day says that early childhood classes should be at 24 or less,” she wrote. “(ideally 22 or less) Kids are screaming for attention. There are so many students who have social or emotional disorders. They NEED their teacher to take time to listen to them. They NEED their teacher to see them. They NEED less students in their class. The people making these decisions are NOT looking out for the students’ best interests, and have very obviously NEVER taught elementary kids.”
Maile also cited “[feeling] disrespected by the district all year long” and a lack of trust, as well as issues with frequent testing of young children.
“Stop testing young kids. It doesn’t do anyone any good,” said Maile. “Do you know which kids slept poorly last night? Do you know who didn’t have breakfast? Do you know whose parents are fighting? Do you know who forgot their glasses and can’t see the computer? Do you know who struggles to read, but has come so far, just not on your timeline? You don’t, but I do. I know some of my best students score poorly on their tests because of life circumstances. I know some of my lower students guessed their way through and got lucky. Why stress kids out by testing them? How about you ask ME, the professional, how they are doing? Ask ME, the teacher who sees these kids every single day. Ask ME, the teacher who knows the handwriting of all 27 kids. Ask ME, the adult in their life who may be more constant than their own parents. Ask ME, then let me teach.”
Her fourth and fifth points focused on the fact that she “felt like I was drowning” and pay.
“So many things beyond teaching are pushed on teachers. Go to this extra meeting, try this new curriculum, watch this video, then implement it in to your next lesson, fill out this survey monkey to let us know how you feel (even though it won’t make any difference), make clothes for the school play, you need to pay for that yourself because there’s no money from the school for it. There’s no music teacher today, so you don’t get a planning time. There are weeks I truly felt like I was drowning and couldn’t get a breath until Friday at 5:00. (NOT 3:00),” said Maile.
“I knew becoming a teacher would never make me rich,” she continued. “That has never been my goal. I wanted to work with kids. I wanted to help kids. I wanted to make enough money to take care of my own kids. Sadly this isn’t the case for so many teachers who have to work two jobs to support their own families. This isn’t right.”
“The school system is broken. It may be broken beyond repair,” Maile added.
Maile isn’t leaving teaching entirely. Instead, she is becoming “an online charter school teacher.”
She also encouraged parents to take a stand to improve public education. “If you are a public school parent, fight. Fight for your kids. Fight for smaller class sizes and pay raises for overworked teachers. Fight to keep art and music in the schools. Please support teachers whenever and wherever you can. I have been so lucky to have so many amazing parents. I couldn’t have done what I have without them. I am sad to leave, but happy to go.”
Since Maile shared her thoughts on June 6, the post has been shared over 73,000 times and generated more than 23,000 comments.