It’s not easy to be a teacher in Michigan. Budget cuts and educational priorities have repeatedly blasted the teaching profession. New laws have changed what our contracts can provide. I was hired just before the turmoil started. I’ve been a library media specialist, a third grade teacher, laid off for a year, a long term sub in the High School, and then a kindergarten teacher, assigned to split my week between two building. I also taught sections of Young 5’s and Kindergarten the same year. Finally 2 years ago I was assigned a full time Young 5’s position. I actually spent the past 4 years in the same room. Since I entered the profession in my forties I plan to retire in the primary grades.
That was yesterday.
Yesterday morning I arrived at work, returning from a week long business trip with my husband. As we stood chatting in the hall I sensed awkwardness. Finally someone told me, our incoming group’s enrollment number was drastically lower than expected. My position has been eliminated. I still have a teaching job, but in what building, or grade level has not been determined.
I’m heartbroken. I have worked so hard to be the best I can be for my high poverty students. I’ve spent countless hours learning the needs and development of five year-olds. Two years ago I successfully committed myself to improving my writing instruction. Last summer I devoted myself to improving my math instruction. I read many books and applied what I’d read to my instruction. I can prove it! Look at my cloth ten frames, for acting out building numbers! See the class set of rekenreks I wrote a grant to buy those! Watch our morning routine, my kids really get decomposition of numbers and love all things mathematical!
Look at those 350 books I purchased with my own money so my students could have high quality books for at home reading! I want my students to love books, so I have glossy high color books. My kids may be poor but they deserve the best. I’ve bought many pricy learning games and toys for my deprived students. Dang, I even have two new items for free exploration time that I haven’t even had time to unpack and bring into my classroom.
My small district has 4 young 5’s teachers and 8 kindergarten teachers, and all but one have been placed or hired in the grade level after me. I’ve mentored, shared and written curriculum. Yet by the decision of a newly hired district administrator, my school has positions eliminated, resulting in me being displaced. I love all the people I work with in primary, and would hate to see any of the lose their spot, but right now I’m grieving my hard work and the fruit I hoped to continue to see from my efforts.
Now what? There is a 5th grade position in my building, with a close staff I hate to leave. But 5th grade is a world away from Young 5’s and I’m not sure I can do it justice. Or is that just grief talking? I could move buildings to 2nd or 3rd grade position . I keep hoping this is all a mistake, but as I recall denial is a part of grieving. As I look around my classroom I realize my guestroom is going to need some new shelving! My grandchildren are going to have some amazing toys to play with at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Don’t even ask how many books they will need to listen to each time they visit.