Friday, July 1, 2016

Fixed Income Friday!

Most of you probably know that I have been a teacher for the past 18 years.
I didn't come to teaching in the usual way, I sort of fell into it when we moved to NC and my options were limited. So I went back to school to get my teaching license, and when my son was 12 and daughter was 8, I began teaching. 
(Mainly because I had no more excuses to stay at home.)

When I first began teaching, it was different. I can't tell you why, just that it was. Kids and parents seemed to be more respectful, our lives weren't hinged upon test scores, and we could create interesting units that were both fun and informative.

But then NCLB came along and then Race to the Top and then an evaluation tool that tells you how effective a teacher you are based on your students' test scores. And everything kinda went to he!! in a handbasket. (And this is where I wave my cane and blame cellphones for some of the issues. Which is actually true, and I'll explain that in a minute.)

Kids began hating school and parents began to blame teachers. Principals and other experts began issuing edicts on "engagement." As classroom teachers, it was our job to keep the kids entertained while teaching. (Because they are used to being held rapt by cellphones, I guess.) No downtime allowed.

It is exhausting, folks.

It might be odd for people to hear this, but honestly, you know, when you're on stage, I don't think people realize how grueling eight shows a week is. And as far as jobs go, being a Broadway actor, it's hard. It's fun, but it's hard.  ~ Will Chase, singer and actor
Read more at:

And that, my friends, is teaching in a nutshell. It is performing for four-and-a-half hours a day, five days a week, with no days off. (And sometimes, "extra shows" are added because a colleague is out and no substitute was found. Then you're covering another teacher's class during your planning. It happens nearly every Friday.)

It's also taking work home on weekends, doing research for new lesson plans (because the old ones weren't "engaging" enough) and grading tests and research papers.

It's phone calls and e-mails to parents (some of whom are wonderful; some who just don't give a rat's patoot) and it's meetings, meetings, and more meetings.

The 12-hour days (which included 40 minutes of travel time, as my school was across the county) were tough on this old bird.

So I quit. I quit because there were so many things out of my control, and yet I was 100% accountable. 12th graders came to me reading at a 6th grade level and the expectation was that I would "catch them up." Disrespectful behavior (and I'm pretty much a 'don't sweat the small stuff' teacher, but I draw the line at yelling cuss words across the room, or physically threatening behavior) wasn't really seen as a problem; students were back in my room the next day, doing the same things that got them sent out the day before. So I quit sending them out. I felt like I was the only one in Room 316 who actually cared and carrying the entire load myself was exhausting. Teaching is increasingly a young person's game. So I researched how I could still get my teaching pension and yet get my life (what's left of it) back.

I took a voluntary demotion to Media Assistant with a 60% pay cut.


My butt will be broke.

But I believe I will have the time and energy to do some things that I love to do, but haven't been able. I won't have the lesson plans to make or the five hour stand up routine to do every day. I won't have to worry about grading or test scores. I can clean my house and sew and garden and blog. I can finish that novel. And my commute? Less than seven minutes each way.

So I decided to make the most of my new pauper status and write a Fixed-income Friday, which will join (now regularly, since I have the time!) Walkabout Wednesday and M********* Monday. I'll also throw a lot of crafts and DIY at you, because I will not have the money to spend on things like decorations and gifts.

I may be living just slightly above the poverty level, but I think the trade-off will be priceless.


Linda @ it all started with paint said...

Well, unlike in the classroom, your presence here on the blog will be greatly appreciated and eagerly anticipated!!!!

:) Linda

Kolein said...

I'm so happy for you. Truly. That decision wasn't easy. But you made it. The relief must be tremendous! Now get your butt up here so we can go party somewhere cute and maybe hit a thrift store on the way! Love always, your "cousin"

Jean @ said...

I hope this comment makes you feel 20 years younger and 30 lbs lighter! It won't, but I can wish it were so. I hope your decision makes you feel the same because it seems like the right choice for you. Loved this line: And this is where I wave my cane and blame cellphones for some of the issues. hahaha!!

Art and Sand said...

I am happy for you - life is too short to not enjoy every moment. And, I will agree that teaching is not what it used to be. The creativity, spark and "teachable moments" have been replaced by testing. I don't miss that part, but I loved my students and still follow along with their careers on Facebook.

We have found that we spend far less money in retirement. I no longer spend $150 - $200 a week on the classroom, I don't spend as much on clothes because I am wearing shorts, tees & flip flops every day, we use less gas ...

Enjoy your summer and your shorter work week in the fall.

Janet said...

Congratulations! Money is so much less important than happiness! I know our creditors don't feel the same way and it's hard to buy food with happiness but that's where more time to garden comes in! Love you! xo

Andrea said...

Oh Kirby!!! I am so happy that you get to do more of what you love to do, but sorry for the kids who will miss out on you (mainly that my own couldn't be in your class...I would have appreciated the heck right out of you with Genny Cream Ale and Hoffmann hot dogs). I have to get myself caught up on your book, trying to find my way back from that curve we were thrown! Maybe we can exchange guest posts...DIY and living on a hard knocks lock down budget! ;)

Donnamae said...

I'm happy for you...and looking forward to your DIY's...and other thrifty tips! Even though you'll be poorer...I'm sure you will be happier. And, you can't put a price on that! Happy 4th! ;)

Junkchiccottage said...

Bravo Kirby! Teachers are my hero's with all they have to deal with. I agree learning and classroom time has changed so much. Good choice to live your life and not have all that stress. I think you are going to enjoy having time to dabble with your creative writing too. Happy 4th.

Tina said...

You will be missed, I know that. You were the best kind of teacher, Kirbs. The one that cared so much about your kids, the one who showed up and tried to make it fun and interesting, the one who was a friend that laughed and danced and sang. You reached them in ways that others didn't- because you were you.
Now it's time for you! And I can't wait to be a part of that ride.

AnnMarie aka Vintage Junkie aka NaNa said...

I think it is a great move to take the demotion in your case! You were so down about all the junk of teaching for so long, that now you will be able to breathe and live life without having that hang over your head. The trade off will be so worth it, you will wonder what you needed all that money for before :-)

zooperson said...

Good for you -- doing what works best for you. It is the students' loss, however, when a good teacher leaves the classroom. I've been a private tutor for 30 years and one-on-one I almost never need to "wave my cane." After the dust settles, you might give some thought to tutoring and upping that fixed income. You indoubtedly have material by the bushel that you have already created so hang on to it for awhile to see if you might still need some of it. I became a tutor just by chance and now, because I'm older than dirt, it's time to garden and play full time . Best of luck.

Kathleen George said...

Please keep us inform how it goes this coming school year. Media can be a learning experience with the students too, but without the stress of a classroom environment.
I'm very happy for you, and hey, work on your writing amongst your wild English garden:).
Keep calm and write on, Kathleen in Az

Miss Kitty said...

Seriously, I don't know how you have managed THIS LONG in that environment. I am counting down the months till I can quit my nursing job and get on Medicare! Yeah, we will see more from "Our Favorite English Teacher" (even if you are not officially teaching any more).

Marie Blackburn said...

Wow, that takes ba...chutzpah! Kudos to you for having the courage to put your personal wellbeing first. I look forward to following Fixed Income Friday as much as I look forward to Menopausal Monday. Your post echoes what I hear from my teacher/teacher's aide friends who have been doing it long enough to gauge the difference.

SimplySingleSenior said...

So happy to find your blog (through another blog I was reading) and especially Fixed Income Friday! Congratulations on leaving such a soul killing environment! I, too, left the grind - Corporate America when my granddaughter was born 2 years ago to take a part time job making next to nothing but I have a life, I feel happier and more rested than I have in years and I have time to enjoy life! I look forward to exploring your blog further - especially Menopausal Mondays -- I can definitely relate to those!

Bliss said...

Well I'm selfish so I'm glad you quit cuz we will get more of you. Who needs to eat?

karen@somewhatquirky said...

I'm thrilled for you. Not for the whole money thing but for the peace of mind thing. You know, if you want to just spend some time NOT teaching, and NOT blogging, etc, I'm good with that, too.

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