Recently, ex-kindergarten teacher Jessica Gentry from Harrisonburg, Virginia, took to social media to talk about why she loved her job and how much she enjoyed working with kids. Then she talked about why she quit. Her Facebook post struck a chord, gaining more than 200K shares from supportive followers who realize that teachers do their community a world of service, having one of the toughest jobs out there.
Why Gentry Quit
When Gentry explained her decision she made it clear that leaving her profession and her students wasn’t easy. She also made it clear that her choice wasn’t about money, the poor pay levels teachers receive, or about how kids have changed and they’re so much more difficult to teach.
She said that she left because society had changed in ways that made it impossible to stay in her classroom and continue to be a productive, positive influence on kids as much as she’d like. She also indicated that she left because working in the current school environment was taking a toll on her physical and mental health because she couldn’t help kids the way she wanted to and wasn’t getting support to be able to do more.
How Things Have Changed
Gentry isn’t a novice teacher. Her experience gives her a solid perspective on the ways schools, classrooms, and parenting has changed through the years. She has noticed that modern parents are spending more time working than in the past and are often “consumed by their devices.” She adds that she’s also seen lots of kids in unstable parenting situations and exposed to “terrible media influences.” She related how she’d have to work with kids who came to school poorly dressed, in dirty clothes, or showing signs of other stressors from home.
Gentry expressed a belief that it’s unreasonably difficult to manage classrooms as a result of home-based influences. From her perspective, kids are feeling safest at school so they’re behaving in undesirable ways there, where they know they’ll be treated with love and respect. She also found that parents weren’t communicating well with her and school officials would tell her “you can’t help them all” when she was trying to get more support to do her job better.
According To Gentry, Technology Isn’t Helping
To compound this problem, Gentry believes that the education system’s effort to enhance classroom experience through technology isn’t helping. In fact, she believes it is causing more problems because of how it enhances issues with kids who spend too much time on devices and media at home. Additionally, it reduces teacher-student interactions that relay important relationship building and social interaction skills. In addition to a negative impact on students, Gentry sees that technology is hurting teachers too, who have to take additional training hours to use it.
The Internet Responds
Naturally, followers of the Facebook posting had a lot to say. The posting went viral as some former teachers weighed in to say that her reasoning was exactly why they left teaching too. Others simply left their messages of support for her. Overall, the post gained 837 comments and 216K shares in under a month. Read them for yourself.
Gentry was clear in the post that her change of profession did not mean that she was going to stop being there for kids. The impulse to support children, which is what led her to teach in the first place, is still strong. However, she’s now going to make a change in a system that is not working for kids, parents, and teachers. She is going to try to work to help parents provide a better environment at home in a way that fulfills her and allows her to help more. In her words, “I may have left the classroom…but I am still advocating for those kiddos”.
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