Teaching is one of the hardest and most thankless jobs in the world. As the world changes and social media and technology become more of an influence on children, the jobs of teachers have become harder. They are dealing with constant distractions in the classroom and oftentimes they don't even have the support of parents. Many are teaching children with severe behavioral issues and who are often in need of more help and support than they are receiving. Jessica Gentry was a kindergarten teacher who had enough and took to Facebook to post a controversial statement about why she decided to give up her career as a teacher.
Gentry, who taught kindergarten at Stone Spring Elementary School in Harrisonburg, Virginia revealed in the post why she felt she needed to leave the job she held for 12 years. The former teacher decided to dispell any myths or rumors about why she chose to leave the job she loved writing, "Let me tell you why those who ooze passion for teaching are leaving the occupation like their hair is on fire..."
She then went on to explain five different reasons why the teaching profession has changed and why it's losing so many quality teachers. While many are quick to blame students, Gentry feels that it's the parents who need to shoulder the blame for the changing behavior of children in the classroom. "Parents are working crazy hours, consumed by their devices, leaving kids in unstable parenting/co-parenting situations, terrible media influences... and we are going to give the excuse that the KIDS have changed? What did we expect them to do?" she writes. "The kids flipping tables at school? They don't have a safe place at home. Our classrooms are the first place they've ever heard 'no', been given boundaries, shown love through respect. Cue 'the kids have changed'".
She also blames the increased reliance on technology and not actual interpersonal relationships between student and teacher for making teaching more impersonal. "So forget the basics of relationship building and hands on learning. Kids already can't read social cues and conduct themselves appropriately in social settings... let's toss more devices at them because it looks good on our website," she writes. Gentry also takes issue with removing teachers from the classroom for training, noting that it sacrifices classroom and instructional time for the students.
Gentry comments on how parents are no longer helping teachers or acting as advocates, instead threatening them and complaining when they're told their child is missing too much school or when the teacher doesn't make themselves available to suit the parent's schedule. "I've had parents stand me up multiple times on Conference Days then call to tattle on me when I refused to offer an after school option. I've had parents tell me that I'm not allowed to tell their child 'no'..." she writes.
Finally, Gentry said she was tired of feeling that she cared for her students 'too much' while lacking the support she needed at the administrative level. "My mental and physical health was in jeopardy every.single.day," she wrote. "Knowing that your kids need and deserve more than they're getting. Sitting in one meeting after another, begging for more support, only to be told 'don't lose sleep over them'... when you LOVE your kids and are PASSIONATE about your mission... these messages tear you apart."
Gentry told Good Morning America that she had reached out to Human Resources on two separate occasions before she finally came to the difficult decision to leave her position for good. "There were a few major events that spurred my departure. I hold teaching in such high regard that watching my most recent administration laugh about students with disabilities, state that we 'shouldn't lose sleep over' struggling students, say that she [a school administrator] 'washed her hands of this year' in April was disheartening, to say the least," she said.
The former teacher told GMA she was happy that her message resonated with so many. "There is an enormous amount of educators who feel that exact way but have felt alone and guilty for thinking so," she said. " I never expected it to reach farther than a few friends -- but I am so humbled to be able to throw the curtains open on the issue and give those who feel unable to say it a voice."
Ultimately, she says she hopes that her post will eventually inspire some kind of change.
"I'd love nothing more than to do work with those willing to listen to change the current path our public education system is headed down," she said. "I promised my coworkers when I left that I'd be the voice for them since so many fear being reprimanded for speaking up."