I am a teacher, and I am tired

Savanna Kucerak teaches English in the Homer schools. Because she loves literature as much as she loves teaching and inspired by William Butler Yeats “The Second Coming,” she offered a poem to the “Tell It Like it Is” listening tour in Owego tonight.

I am a teacher, and I am tired

Tired of coming home every night angry, abused, and insulted.

Tired of being treated as a child, as a robot, as a stepping stone for politician$ and publi$hing companie$ to make more money.

Tired of ignorance littering the air: “the Common Core is an exciting time in education!” or “APPR is just showing off the wonderful work you already do!”

Tired of being told to “wait it out,” that the “pendulum will swing the other way eventually” while witnessing the casualties pile up — casualties with names and dreams and futures and the RIGHT to the BEST EDUCATION we can give them.

Tired of being afraid to stand up for what I know is right for our kids and our country because I am afraid of losing my job and being unable to pay my bills.

Tired of my superiors being afraid to stand up for what they know is right for our kids and our country because they, too, are afraid of losing their livelihood.

Tired of wanting to be better, volunteering to do additional work, and watching helplessly as any progress I have made is brushed aside by the newest educational reform acronym.

Tired of being told, “Ohh, sorry, but my hands are tied,” accompanied by a half smile, a shrug of the shoulders.

Tired of spending hours of my life documenting and sorting and filing instead of revising and learning and improving.

Tired of wasting taxpayer money on binders and tabs and computer paper and ink.

Tired of being a taxpayer, watching as my money is spent on binders and tabs and computer paper and ink instead of STUDENTS and STUDENTS and STUDENTS and STUDENTS.

Tired of paying my student loan bills and nostalgically remembering that I chose to be a teacher, that I wanted to teach, blissfully ignorant of what lay ahead.

Tired of my two degrees and experience and individuality being ignored and devalued.

Tired of knowing what’s best for my students, but being told NOT to do it.

Tired of telling the best and brightest young people NOT to be teachers — and meaning it.

Tired of being told that if I love literature, then I’d better choose another profession.

Tired of Googling “what can I do besides teach?” only to close out of the browser every time, knowing there is nothing I’d be better at or love more than what was formerly known as “teaching.”

Tired of living in a country where my dream job no longer exists – where “teacher” is now synonymous with data-collector, test-prepper, script-reader, automaton.

Tired of grappling with the notion that I now have a job instead of a life or even a career.

Tired of disillusionment poisoning even the best of days.

Tired of telling my students that they will be heard if they support their arguments with evidence, yet knowing in my heart that that is a lie.

Tired of worrying about my own future children, who will either be numbers under this developing “educational” system – or dealing with the wreckage of a failed, expensive national tragedy in which all the best teachers have either abandoned this sinking ship or remain on board as empty shells, whispered voices, gasping for air.

I am tired, but I am still here – and there are many of me.

Join us. Say something. Do something.

Our collective future depends on it.”

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22 Comments

  1. Glenn Williams April 18, 2013 at 6:47 am #

    I am old now, but spent many years working in education as a teacher and ultimately as a
    field rep for NYSUT and NEA. Like you I am sick at heart watching what I believe is a
    coordinated attempt to privatize public education for the profit potential that it represents.

    Too many administrators have inadvertently become tools in the process and too many
    teachers have given up fighting out of feelings of helplessness. This will only assure further
    demise.

    I am of the opinion that you need to collectively develop a fighting strategy that can turn this
    around. There are still a few battle scarred fighters that would be willing to help, if asked.

  2. Liza Frenette April 18, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    Savanna
    Thank you for taking the time to sincerely spell out just what it is like for you and your colleagues every day. We must make your voices heard.

  3. Bradley Over April 18, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Savanna,
    Inspirational! Collectively we can, collectively we must.

  4. Glenn Williams April 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Thank you for responding Betsy. In my
    opinion you will collectively have to do much
    more. If you have a committee, I would be willing
    to speak with you to explore an idea or two. In earlier days I was an organizer for NYSUT and
    later did organizing for NEA and after retirement
    did some for the Red Cross in DC.

    Let me know if there is any interest,

    Regards,

    Glenn

  5. Alyssa N. April 18, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    Oh my, preaching to the choir here! As a special ed. teacher, we know our kids don’t fit into the box. But new sp.ed. laws are forcing us to put our kids into that box, when it won’t meet their needs.

  6. Amy April 18, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    There is nothing I could write that does the justice of this poem. So well said. So powerfull. So true.

  7. SC Teacher April 18, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    Amen! From South Carolina!!

  8. Liz April 19, 2013 at 8:14 am #

    I, too, am tired. Tired of sleepless nights thinking about how I can help my students make it through their courses, knowing that they don’t really have time to absorb what they are doing. Everything is at warp speed so that we teachers can show how our kids have performed, collect the data, and then be told whether we are effective or not. Many of my students are not college bound or could care less about regents exams. Many want to work on their family farms, their fathers automotive shop, or in some other trade. Instead of pushing them to failure we should be encouraging them to pursue their dream and give them the tools they need to help them become successful and productive citizens. Instead they are frustrated, discouraged, depressed, and drop out or have to go to summer school every year. Why don’t the lawmakers wake up and look at other countries who have a high success rate in educating their students. It is not based on testing their students to death, but looking at their potential and providing them the support they need.

    I am tired, but I continue to come to work every day so that my students know that someone cares and is there to help them through if they are willing to try.

    • Joe DiVincenzo April 27, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

      Liz, remember, what’s good for teachers is also good for the kids.

  9. Carrie April 19, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    Wow! I felt like I was reading my own thoughts! Thanks Savannah!

  10. Cris April 20, 2013 at 6:08 am #

    I taught in the UK for 38 years and have recently retired. What amazes me is that colleagues in America are fighting exactly the same battles as we are here – privatisation through the back door, education as a political football, government over-interference in the curriculum and assessment, overloading of the curriculum, inappropriate expectations from out of touch administrators and politicians, exhausted and undervalued teachers.

    Teaching is a vocation and as such takes over our lives – our motivation is the best for our students. Therefore it is so much more painful when those who lack that vocation have more control of what we do than we do ourselves.

    If you are still teaching, hold on to those reasons you entered the profession and continue to make a difference to kids lives – one by one.

  11. matthew truesdale April 20, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    I’m a veteran English teacher, too, and I have this to say: Get over it. Your job is to do the best you can with the students you have regardless of what clouds may hang over you. If you can’t do that, then find another line of work.

  12. Lori April 20, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

    I haven’t read anything lately filled with more truths or better written. Thank you
    for stating what so many of us deeply feel and cannot share. Let us hope that things
    will turn around…….they must.

  13. Kayla April 23, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    I am equally tired, and I have only been in the profession for six years. I have some students that will be taking ten 2 hour or longer exams between now and the end of the school year. I wrote/illustrated this children’s book to vent my frustration, and I hope it speaks to some of you.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/136592824/A-Small-Standardite-by-Kay-Collins

  14. Teachers' Letters to Bill Gates June 22, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    Good morning,

    We would like permission to post your letter on our blog http://teachersletterstobillgates.com/tag/teachers-letters-to-bill-gates/ .

    Thank you for your great message.

    Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

    • Savanna Kucerak July 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

      Feel free to post wherever you like! Thank you.

  15. summer carter June 22, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    So eloquently stated, so disheartening and true!

  16. Random August 6, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

    I agree with Matthew. You choose to enter the profession. For the sake of your students get over this negativity, would you want your students acting out like this.

  17. Louise Moriarty October 13, 2013 at 4:43 am #

    My friend and I run a radio show for teachers. We talk about all kinds of things and would love to share this episode with people interested in what teachers can do to feel more supported and satisfied and acknowledged in their chosen career.
    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/creatingcalmnetwork1/2013/10/08/miracles-wonder-down-under-lifestyle-upgrade-for-teacher

    Hope you can join us on the second Tues of the month on the Creating calm network.

  18. lynne vincent November 5, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

    Thank you for the poem. I looked up on Google “I am tired and a teacher’ and found you. I also looked at job sites and felt that even though I am so angry and exhausted, there is nothing else I would rather do. I am a special ed teacher and these tests and their demands are breaking my heart. Watching my students struggle. Seeing their defeat. Hearing there is no money for curriculum or being told that “toys are not allowed in school” when I tried to reward good behavior with little treats/toys. Changing my lessons and schedule time and time again to try to allow others to be happy and satisfied. I could go on but it is useless. I was told today to sign up for a reading seminar that would “truly help my kids” well what about the one you sent me to last year or the one two years ago or four years ago. Each was supposed to be “the answer”. I mean I get having “tools in my toolbelt” but all this time away from those I am supposed to teach seems silly. What would help…parents having their students read each night and doing some math practice. I cannot do this alone, yet it seems as that is what is expected; from the parents, from the regular ed teachers, from the community. I am supposed to “fix” this child or that student. But I need help, and it just is not there.

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