What’s This?

I’ve been wanting to start a new blog that would be a personal blog with a professional theme. I am aware of and read several great educational bloggers. I started to think that setting up yet another educator blog would be redundant.

I was recently offered a new position at a university, which, although it won’t take me out of education, it will take me out of the classroom. I’ve decided to take the job and as a result, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching on these last few days in the classroom. Will I ever come back to teaching?

Yesterday, (and I’m sure many females out there will relate to this) I wore my “cruel shoes”. These shoes start off in the morning feeling okay, but by the end of the day, my feet hurt like someone has been holding them in a vice grip while pouring molten nails with shards of glass over them, then grinding them into . . . . well, you get the picture. On the ride home from work (thankfully, David was driving), I tried and tried to leave those shoes on my feet, but a few blocks from home I just couldn’t stand it any longer! I took the shoes off, staring at my toes in disbelief that they didn’t look like misshapen, bloody stumps. When we got home, David laughed that I was walking barefoot in a skirt up to the house. I explained to him that once you take cruel shoes off, there is no putting them on again.

How are these three paragraphs related? Well, as I said, I’ve been soul-searching. I’m really troubled about whether I’ll ever return to a classroom. I’ve found my years of teaching are similar to that day wearing the cruel shoes. There are benefits to wearing those shoes – they look good, sometimes they even feel good, they offer some protection, they complete my look, and they don’t always hurt. The bad thing is, they hurt my feet often and I suffer through my day when I wear them. I tolerate having them on because the benefits are worth it to me for that day. But once I take them off, there is no convincing myself to put them back on, at least not for a few days.

Those shoes are the reason I’m leaving the classroom. No, not those shoes, but the metaphorical ones that represent the things I dislike about teaching. Things like the personal responsibility I feel for many children’s lives, the stress of coming up with the right lesson plans, the agony of having to make everything fit a state-prescribed formula, the worry over whether my students will have what they need to pass state-standardized tests, the disappointment when my students aren’t excited about the things I love. These are things I’ve put up with because of the benefits of teaching – that look on a kid’s face when you just may have instilled the spark in their brains for what will become their profession someday; the thank you from the student you helped prepare for a test so they could graduate three years ago who has come back for a visit; the “good days” when everything you planned works, the kids are engaged and excited, and you go home feeling like a real teacher. But now that I’m taking the shoes off, will I ever put them on again?

 I decided to name my blog “Cruel Shoes” because I want it to be a place where the realities of teaching can be spoken. Oftentimes new and good teachers leave the profession because they’ve become disillusioned. They thought teaching was going to be something it can never be. They became disappointed and didn’t give the rewards time to catch up with the penalties. I’m hoping this blog will be a place where teachers can read the truth and in so doing, learn that they are not alone. A place where seasoned teachers can tell the young ones Yes, it is tough, but it is worth it. 

In reality, after next week, I truly may never walk into a classroom in the capacity of teacher again. In my mind, I will never leave the classroom. As a teacher-at-heart, I will post information here about things that will be helpful to teachers, but I will also speak the truths about that information and about teaching in general. Post a comment here, let’s get this party started!


7 responses to “What’s This?

  1. Best of luck on the new space. I think we can always use new educational voices, but you need to write in a way that makes the most sense to you personally.

    I really like your theme, as I read many more utopian stories about education than I do some of the grim realities.

    Again, all the best in your blogging and personal pursuits. I’ll be watching this space. 🙂

  2. Best of luck in your new position Elaine. Having spent a good week with you on the DEN cruise, plus our many other conversations I know you will do great.

    As far as blogging goes, remember it’s a reflection of what is on your mind, and who you are. Great start so far

  3. elementaryteacher

    I’m really happy to have found your new blog, and have signed up for your RSS feed immediately. It sounds like you will have a lot of interesting issues to discuss here. I really liked this thoughtful post. Iwolc really feel what you were feeling with the “classroom shoes.”

    I just happen to be reading a new book by Donald Trump, called “Think Big and Kick A..” which has really revitalized my passion in teaching. It’s such a positive and inspiring book, you might enjoy it now. And it sounds like you’re off to a good start in your new position. I think everyone needs a change from time-to-time. It sounds like you’re ready for that change.

    Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas (in the Middle East)

  4. elementaryteacher

    Oops! Where IS your RSS Feed? Please create it for us so we can follow your blog!

    Go to your Dashboard, then Presentation, then to Widgets. At the bottom of the page, find the “Meta” widget, and move it into your sidebar (I recommend right below your map of visitor locations). This will let us sign up for your RSS feed.

    Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas (in the Middle East)

  5. Thank you, Eileen, for pointing this out! Hope it works for you now, and thanks for subscribing!

  6. Pingback: Putting the cruel shoes on « Cruel Shoes

  7. I am retiring for the same reasons. I took off my cruel shoes while teaching 25 years ago when told by my boss I had to wear high-heels. I said NO, and still kept my job. I have been saying NO to whatever I was told to do that I did not feel increased the computational thinking ability of my students. I have build math lessons that use computer science and engineering tools for the last 2 decades. I am retiring to scale that work with IEEE, CSTA, ISTE SIGCT, AAUW and others who have solutions that are ignored by the test crazy decision makers who think they can solve problems without technology and focus on building the highly effective teacher. In Houston ISD highly effective means TAKS and other accountability test scores equate to incentive pay and keeping your job. The “TE” in STEM are not tested, so that means we are left behind. I too cry when I think about leaving behind the students I love to teach. Reading your blog made me feel a little better that my choice to retire is the right one. Thank you for speaking from your heart – my thoughts can be found at http://www.knorth.edublogs.org as well as published editorials on this topic for the last decade.

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