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Teacher Burnout: My Thoughts And Sympathies

Updated on September 28, 2011

Boy, I can certainly relate...

I was reading the Los Angeles Times one recent morning when I came across a something that, to be perfectly honest, hit home...

Sandy Banks, who writes a regular column in the Times about various topics, wrote about how an art teacher at a high school in South Los Angeles, located just a few blocks south of the University of Southern California, walked out of his 6th period art class and penned his resignation because he couldn't deal with the lack of administrative support concerning the discipline problems of some of his students.

In this particular instance, a handful of kids - punks really, for all intents and purposes - in his class were doing nothing but causing chaos and misery, doing things like throwing paper around, smacking each other with rulers, constantly talking over him while he was trying to teach, and blocking the door when he tried to close it.

What made this poor guy reach the end of his rope and say "To hell with it!" was the fact that security didn't come to help with the situation, after he called them four times, and the administration, when he appealed to them for help, had the gall to ask,

"Have you encouraged the students?" and (this is what flabbergasted and angered me)...

"Have you treated them with respect?"

Talk about taking the students' side!

Now how, may I ask, are you supposed to encourage someone who won't listen to you and is destroying your class through his antics?

And how in the living hell are you supposed to respect those who are acting like stupid losers who blatantly disrespect you and your class on a regular basis?!

The last time I checked, it's the STUDENT that's supposed to respect not only the teacher, but his class and the other students in such class who want to learn, which these punks - and that's what they are - had no intention of doing; not only did they not want to learn, they didn't want anyone else to learn either.

No wonder that this teacher was fed up - when you think about it, considering that this teacher had been at this school for ten years and had put up with this crap for that long, it wasn't surprising in the least that he did what he did.

Though in fairness, he amended his resignation to requesting a leave of absence from the school, which he got.

After reading about this man's troubles, no one felt more sympathy for him than me, because like him I had a P.E. class at this one school where there were a handful of losers, I mean students, who did nothing but cause misery with their degenerate behavior and burned me out of teaching so badly that I had suicidal thoughts.

Having worked with young people for over twenty years as a P.E. teacher, a coach, a tutor and an after school teacher, believe me when I say that I have some horror stories of my own, which was a factor in me ultimately leaving the "kid business", so to speak...

I was viciously cursed at, called names, and had money stolen from me, which at one school wasn't even my money as I was a cafeteria clerk in charge of the money spent for lunches - thank goodness it was recovered quickly.

Not to mention talked back to countless times and not getting support from too many administrators and supervisors, who expected me and my colleagues to act like a nanny to the kids rather than a leader and an educator.

I even had a pipe pulled on me by a kid - a wannabe gang banger really; I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up exactly that - at a park one day.

And this wasn't with high school kids, but was mostly at the elementary school level, which I spent the bulk of my education career.

Of course the fact that I had - and have - Asperger's Syndrome, which ultimately rendered me unable to effectively work with people on a daily basis, was the main factor in education not working out for me, but that's besides the point.

Reading all of this, the prevalent though I had was, "I feel you, dog..." because I've been there; this is a huge reason why the majority of teachers - three out of five I believe - quit teaching and look for another line of work within their first five years.

The worst part of all this is that unless things radically change, which isn't likely, incidents like what happened with this art teacher will undoubtedly continue to happen.

I suppose there's nothing left to say except I hope things work out for that poor teacher, and I REALLY hope that those little delinquent punks that caused this man's troubles get what they deserve - that someone takes them by the scuff of their necks and tosses them out of that school.

I know people will disagree with me with respect to the kids, saying that I should understand the poor darlings, and be like Barney the Dinosaur to youngsters like that, but...

That's the way I see this.


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    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 

      7 years ago from Texas

      This is a great hub. I have seen these disciplinary issues firsthand. The challenges are immense. Disciplinary issues can be an even greater challenge without parental, administrative and district support.

      By the way, I commend you on noting your Asperger's Syndrome. I have a son in the spectrum. This actually brings up an additional point. STRUCTURE - this is exactly what our disciplinary system needs. Without it students that want to learn and teachers that want to teach will continue to be hindered until an effective plan of action is widely enforced in our schools. Although I hope to reach every student on my roster, I may not always be able to break through. This is why teachers together with administrators need to propose effective intervention measures, implement those measures and assess who simply needs to be removed. Then there is government and legal issues - a tangled web of political jargon. Who is going to decide when and why a student needs to be removed? Will the public agree?

    • profile image


      7 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      I fully understand the frustration felt by this teacher and you. Too many times the students are given too much support for bad behavior by the school administration and their parents.

      Kids need disapline.

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 

      7 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      Children are to respect teachers. The problem is parents won't teach this to their children--assuming these children had parents. There is no excuse for administration allowing such behavior, except for their fear of being called "insensitive" or some other rubbish.

      Proper behavior should be a requirement--otherwise throw them out. On the streets they might finally learn they are not as smart as they think they are.


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