Dear Margo: I’ve taught for 20 years and can retire in 12 years. I don’t know if I can go the distance. I don’t know whether to quit and try to find a less stressful job, or keep hoping.
Instead of doing what is best for students, we are doing what is best for administrators: focusing on the tests. I used to have one classroom, and everyone did the same assignments, but I tweaked them for ability levels. Now I am planning for four different groups of students, and it takes a lot longer because I have to use all of the products purchased that promise glorious state test results.
It is near impossible to read the practice test to my ELL students, have a meaningful assignment for my gifted students who will finish the test 20 minutes early, make sure the students with the modified test are able to follow all of the notes and circle the right bubbles, and keep my ED student calm because frustration is his trigger. Oh, and then there are the other students, and they all deserve a teacher, too.
There are endless training days (for which I have to prepare notes for a substitute) and extra duties, but there isn’t any money for lunch monitors. I go home in tears sometimes because I am overwhelmed. My husband has a decent job, and he says if I can hang in for four years it will really help with our two kids’ college funds and our retirement fund. Sometimes I wonder if I can make it four more days, much less four years. — Beleaguered
Dear Be: You really are between a rock and a hard place. Of course, you are not alone, as many pubic schools are a mess. One does worry about the caliber of education our kids are getting. According to Marian Wilde, 16 other industrialized countries scored above the United States in science, and 23 scored above us in math.
As for your mental state, only you know your limit. You actually sound like you care, so on that basis it would be beneficial for your students if you stayed. And the four years your husband suggests is not 12. Perhaps you should explore whether there’s a job available that’s tied to what you’ve been doing, such as administration or an educational consulting firm — or whether there’s a job available of any kind, because your second income is required. I’m not sure I’ve even come close to solving your problem, but I hope I’ve given you some ideas. — Margo, sympathetically
Dear Margo: Maybe it’s just where I live, but it seems like everybody and his dog is now glucose intolerant, on a gluten-free diet or allergic to peanuts. When I was younger, I didn’t know anyone who had those restrictions. I don’t want to believe that my friends are faddists, but I really don’t know what to think. Why is this happening? — Glenda
Dear Glen: Lust, avarice, sloth, Happy and Doc? Truly, I have wondered myself why these food situations are so prevalent today; they weren’t 10 or 15 years ago. It could very well be the food supply or some element in the environment. There’s a fight right now about Monsanto, whose genetically modified feed is harmful, according to some scientists — not to mention that we have cows and chickens taking antibiotics and growth hormones.
While I take these people at their word that they feel better and healthier eliminating certain things from their diets, I will say that some months ago, because of feeling bloated, I declared myself to be lactose intolerant (because that was a friend’s symptom) and stayed away from dairy. Then I forgot about my self-diagnosis and tried Greek yogurt, which I now eat every day. Just give your friends the benefit of the doubt. — Margo, individually
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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