Sunday, August 26, 2012

What's in a name?

Photo by Auntie P
Hello, I know it's been a while.  In the months since my last post, a lot has changed.  My name has changed.  I am no longer jkies; I am jennie.kies.  What does that mean?  I quit my job in Cedar Rapids where jkies was born, and I finished my master's degree where jkies grew up.  It is now time to be jennie.kies. - me at home, facebook, twitter, pinterest... - me at school between colleagues - me at school with students on Google Apps

I'm sure my master's cohorts will continue to call me jkies, and that's just fine.  I'll miss, but it was time to move on.  If I hadn't left the Cedar Rapids School District, I probably would have joined the teachers quitting the teaching profession within 5 years.

I found the following on The Best of Bilash:

The United States Department of Education provides the following statistics on teacher dropout in the US:
  • After 3 years, 1/3 of new teachers leave the field
  • After 5 years, almost half of those new teachers have left.
  • In inner city schools, 1/2 of the teachers quit within 3 years.

Bilash describes teacher burnout and my situation very well:
Teacher burnout can result from a heavy and varied course load (i.e. teaching full time and teaching several different subjects, some perhaps outside of the teacher’s areas of specialization), participation in a variety of extracurricular activities (e.g. coaching, teacher representative for school clubs and groups, staff representative for the local teacher’s federation, etc.), feeling isolated and/or pressured or feeling tired/exhausted and frustrated. Teacher burnout can ultimately lead to the teacher leaving the profession, or staying and largely becoming unsuccessful and/or ineffective.

I was teaching five very different classes every day and having all of those feelings.  Even though my Principles of Engineering, Intro to Engineering Design and Digital Electronic students all scored in the competent range on the end of curriculum final, I still felt ineffective.  I didn't have time to get to know more than a few students.  I couldn't provide enrichment opportunities for advanced students.  I was supervising students while they worked in two different classrooms, which meant that I couldn't hold students responsible for their actions like putting a pop tart in the vise or spraying lubricant on the floor by the door.
Now I hear the situation at my old school has even gotten more stressful: less time for preparation and more responsibility.  I'm not sure I would have made it through the school year there. The brand new teacher who replaced me does have a less insane schedule.  Instead of five different classes, he only has three so maybe he has a chance.  I wish him good luck!

Ok, I'm bringing this to a close.  This wasn't supposed to be a post about my old, miserable job, but about the changes in my digital life as I start a new job.  I guess that will be next time, and it will be soon.  Jennie.kies is going to be a more active digital presence because she has the time and energy for it!  Next week I will be tweeting from the Google Apps for Education Conference in Mexico City  (#gafesummit).  How awesome is that!  ASFG is sending me to a conference! I don't have to beg or use my personal days; they're sending me!


  1. So excited for you & can't wait to read about all your adventures!

  2. This is a GREAT post, Jennie. I think it can shed some light on why teaching is so challenging. Thank you for showing the stress involved...especially when the country is crying out for engineering education, and then subject such excellent teachers to such difficult conditions. I wish you all the best in this new adventure. And will always be jkies to me!

  3. Congrats on your new position and exciting new life! So happy for you. :-)

  4. Great post, and yes, you got away from you old job just in time. It's really sort of sad to see what has happened to that once proud school. There are still amazing teachers there, and I think the students are worthy of them. I'm optimistic that things will turn, but changes will need to be made. Best to you and Alex in your new roles!

  5. Love you so JKies! My fellow & forever Beijing Babe! Rock on!