I Am THAT Teacher

Apr 21, 2018 | Teacher Rants, Teacher Wisdom | 8 comments

I am THAT teacher. An article about leaving teaching.

Hi, if you are new here my name is Jennifer and I am a former Arizona teacher.

But I am so much more than that…  

I am THAT teacher who went into teaching because I loved working with children.

I am THAT teacher who loves inspiring children to learn new things.

I am THAT teacher who thrives on finding new and fun ways to do that.

I am THAT teacher who gets excited over the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and books.

I am THAT teacher who spent hours each week on Pinterest searching for new ideas to make learning meaningful and fun.

I am THAT teacher who would drive 30 minutes to a Lakeshore store because the lamination would last longer.

I am THAT teacher who could not leave Lakeshore without stocking up on more learning materials for students.

I am THAT teacher who spent well over the $250 teacher tax credit amount of my own money to make sure I had the necessary materials to effectively teach my students year after year.

I am THAT teacher who has taken over a class midyear because there were 45 third graders in a class.

I am THAT teacher who had to teach on the cafeteria stage for a quarter because the school had no more open classrooms for a new teacher.

I am THAT teacher who has been short eight chairs and students desks leaving eight of my students to sit on the floor or share a chair for weeks.

I am THAT teacher who has had to rotate through other classes during my contracted prep time to cover teachers who were out ill and there was no substitutes available.

I am THAT teacher who wrote grants to pay for projects because the school’s budget did not have the funds for basic materials, let alone in-depth projects that inspire creativity and innovation.

I am THAT teacher who would bring the community into my classroom because we could not afford field trips.

I am THAT teacher who would send myself to professional development conferences because the school district did not have the funds to do so.

I am THAT teacher who would welcome new students with a smile and open arms even though I had 28 students and the class next to me had 24.

I am THAT teacher who has had 28 kindergarteners in a classroom with no aide.

I am THAT teacher who would take challenging students with open arms and a smile.

I am THAT teacher who would meet students in the parking lot every morning and help the parent transition their child into the school for the morning.

I am THAT teacher who would pick up Happy Meals at lunch for students to celebrate accomplishments.

I am THAT teacher who has helped a child pee in a bucket during a lockdown in such a way that is not demeaning or embarrassing.

I am THAT teacher who would let students sit on my lap to do assessments because that was the only way they could get over the anxiety.

I am THAT teacher who would not let children define themselves by some of the ridiculous things we are forced to do with students like standardized tests in kindergarten!

I am THAT teacher who would close the door and tell a parent what they REALLY need to do because the special education process was not helping.  (Lived and learned on that one).

I am THAT teacher who has been threatened by a parent to be punched in the face because she did not like an action I was legally obligated to take.

I am THAT teacher who created my own materials because the district provided materials were dated, unengaging, and ineffective.

I am THAT teacher who would hoard glue sticks, paper, and crayons because I knew that by the end of the year the supply room would be empty.

I am THAT teacher who would beg her uncle who owned an out of state printing business to send me paper because the school had no copy budget left.

I am THAT teacher who was given an overhead projector as the appropriate technology to prepare our students for the 21st century and beyond.

I am THAT teacher who has had a SmartBoard in my room and not be able to use it because the school could not afford bulbs to make it work.

I am THAT teacher who would pay student charges off so that my students did not have to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for what was probably their only hot meal for the day.

I am THAT teacher who would make TWO Mother’s Day gifts with her students because a child should never have to choose which mom to give a present to.  (Which meant paying for twice as many supplies with my own money).

I am THAT teacher who would beg my own family year after year to sponsor a student of mine who was in need.

I am THAT teacher who would make sure all of my students had holiday gifts.

I am THAT teacher who collected wrapping paper from friends to wrap those gifts.

I am THAT teacher who delivered presents on Christmas Eve with Santa to make sure those gifts were given directly to the kids.

I am THAT teacher who would pick students up on weekends and take them to see Disney on Ice because they had never had the opportunity to go.  (Long ago, this was still allowed LOL).

I am THAT teacher who would ask her own mom for money for treats for her students on these outings.

I am THAT teacher who put my students’ overall wellbeing first.

I am THAT teacher who would sing Ain’t No Mountain High Enough to my kindergarteners every day as we waited in line for lunch.  (I danced too but that probably should not be noted LOL).

I am THAT teacher who knew who to call to get counseling services for her students outside of the school because school counselors don’t have time to work with most students who need it.

I am THAT teacher who would drive my husband nuts by cutting laminate in the car.  Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

I am THAT teacher who has missed events for my own children because my students and my career came first.

I am THAT teacher who would beg people for class sets of things like promotional items or paper hats for my students because I knew they would love them and they were free.

I am THAT teacher who had to work two jobs outside of teaching just to make ends meet.

I am THAT teacher who would stay in college to defer my student loans.

I am THAT teacher who did not make enough to make a student loan payment while I was a teacher.

I am THAT teacher who did not realize when I decided to be a teacher that I would be entering a profession that would not be given the funding to adequately provide the public service we are expected to.

I am THAT teacher who has marched at our state capital many times over the last 10 years to fight for funding for schools.  (Although the Red for Ed Movement is new in Arizona, the issue with school funding has been around for over a decade and teacher have been fighting it).

I am THAT teacher who was literally losing my hair over the pressure and stress from being a teacher and trying to do everything for my students.

I am THAT teacher who has had to sit in meetings over student growth expectations that are ridiculous and unrealistic.

I am THAT teacher who has sat in the car of my school parking lot and cried. And cried and cried.

I am THAT teacher who year after year questioned if I had it in me to do one more year.

The thing is, teachers are all THIS teacher.  Until… 

I could not do it anymore.  I had to walk away and now…

I am now THAT teacher who had to make the hard decision to leave the classroom.

I am now THAT teacher who decided my health was at risk and something needed to change.

I am now THAT teacher who stepped up and said my family is equally important.

I am now THAT teacher who had no choice but to take some financial control of my life.

I am now THAT teacher who wants to make sure that NOT ONE MORE TEACHER has to follow in my footsteps and leave education because they have had enough.

I am now THAT teacher who is HOPEFUL that we can use our voices to get to finally get the funding they need to effectively teach our children.

I am now THAT teacher who is proud to be part of this movement that will create the much-needed change for the children and educators in our state.

What is your THAT teacher story?

Please share it below or on your own social media.





  1. Adrianne Braunscheidel

    Boy, did I need to read this. Thank you , Jennifer for being so open with us. I can relate to everything you shared. The ending of your commentary is exactly what I am going through right now. I am NOW that teacher, too. I just left my classroom, too. I have been feeling so alone. I am retiring this year and just couldn’t finish these last 3 months. I walked away. My health has been jeapordized, also. High blood pressure, hair loss and anxiety. Sounds like you gave your heart and soul to those lucky kiddos. Thank you for sharing so I know I am not alone and maybe it will help with the guilt I feel.

  2. Anon teacher

    I am THAT teacher. The brand new one with bright eyes and hopes who got into teaching because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.The one who is on a break after the first 11 weeks and wonders can I keep doing this thing that is both the hardest and most amazing thing I’ve ever done?

    I am THAT teacher. The one who cried every single day before and after school for the first two weeks with worry for these tiny people and were they learning? And was I doing enough? And did they eat today? And she doesn’t have a friend and his dad hits him when he gets the answers wrong and she doesn’t know how to share and his parents are at the denial stage of grief about the learning disabilities I can so clearly see and it’s stopping him getting the services he needs. And the one who loses sleep over these same things

    I am THAT teacher who is learning to trust herself and the decisions she makes

    I am THAT teacher who sometimes throws the lesson plan out the window because our butterfly came out of its chrysalis this morning or because there’s a parrot in the tree outside and maybe we just need to stare at this beautiful world we live in.

    I am THAT teacher who loves those kids so hard it hurts and will fight for them to the ends of the earth

    I am THAT teacher who buys extra snacks for the children who have none and I know they need something in their bellies before lunch which is so late in the day that even I’m hangry by then.

    I am THAT teacher who pays the field trip fee so that one child doesn’t have to miss out.

    I am THAT teacher who reads posts like these and worries will that be me one day? Will I burn myself out?

  3. McKenzie Chandler

    Hi Jennifer! I am an aspiring teacher at a college in Kansas. I am a junior and I cannot wait to finally have a classroom of my own. After reading your entry, I strongly believe I will be THAT teacher, too. However, there is nothing wrong with being THAT teacher. We need more of those kinds of teachers. Teaching is not a profession you go into in hopes of getting paid well. You really must have a passion for teaching and passion for kids. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Kimberly K Fowler

    Wonderfully written and said. Yes. I am THAT teacher. Ready to leave my career before it gets the rest of me (already got the best of me…)

  5. Yvonne Miller

    I am that teacher who is getting my masters degree to defer payments for another year. But, questioning if I’m doing the right thing, knowing that I still won’t be making much but hopefully making more of a difference to my students.

  6. Lynda Sheridan

    I am. There.
    I am the teacher who cannot get the muscles and joints in her body to simmer down enough to walk before a long hot shower in the morning; desperate to get to the classroom of devoted Kinders who hate when she is in an IEP meeting…Much more if she takes one day off to attend to failing health.
    I am the teacher who nurtures the souls of the children who don’t matter much to the extended family members at home. Whichever EVER home they stayed at last night.
    I am the teacher who doesn’t think she has another day to give; were it not for the faces of those children Who matter not…

    I am the teacher who shuts the door to let her children do what they need more than anything…to play with one another.

    I am the teacher who worries that the next generation of teachers won’t know how vital it is to listen to the souls of children who may not have words to express themselves and NOT just teach them to read write speak and listen…
    And That it WON’T be in their SGO…

    I am that senior teacher who was asked to throw in the first pitch at our local ball park, but is considering throwing in the towel at the same time… (I would be leaving due to PHYSICAL difficulties; but also with a heavy heart for participating, however minimally, in the game of Pushing DOWN academics on our young children.

    I am the teacher who, despite the reality that her medical benefits were stripped by greedy politicians: those same medical benefits that once made her salary acceptable, will limp in to school these last few months because her children deserve her consistency. For some, it is the only constant that motivates them to succeed.

    I am that teacher who may remain faceless and nameless to history; but to those several hundred children who had a piece of her, will remain a part of their spirit forever.
    I am that teacher.

  7. Nadine Snyder

    No one understands unless they have been there. (This was the year I was bit and spit at for 90 days before support happened.) I hope your decision will bring you the fulfillment that we thought we’d find in teaching. Thank you for sharing all of your resources and ideas. I have learned so much from you and my students have enjoyed school because of you.

  8. Mary

    Well said. Me too… just retired after 33 years in kindergarten and have 2 daughters in education . One in AZ now ?and the other in WI. Tough times for caring teachers.????


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