NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Choosing to walk away from teaching wasn’t easy for Amanda Baker, a former Metro Nashville Public Schools teacher.
Baker, an elementary school teacher, left the classroom this school year after 12 years.
You may remember her sharing the challenges facing educators on News 2 back in 2019 before the disaster.
“It is our future. If I can’t give them what they need, it’s hard,” Baker told Alex Denis in 2019. Even then she was thinking about a change. “Have you ever thought about leaving?” Alex asked. Baker said, “Yes.”
Baker said the decision to leave the classroom was heartbreaking but also liberating.
“I’m kind of a ball of emotion, to be honest. I’m relieved. But there’s always that little teacher guilt, you know, feeling like you’re out of your purpose,” Baker said.
Baker taught through Covid and found ways to engage her first graders through computer screens.
“We went from being, you know, the survivors of COVID to, ‘Oh, my goodness, how do these teachers do it every day?’ to love, at the drop of a dime, everything changed,” she recalled.
When students returned to classrooms, they experienced a significant learning loss. Baker said the standards set were unrealistic.
“There were no changes to the curriculum,” she said.
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Baker felt teachers and students were set up to fail.
“We were told, you know, ‘we know they’re behind. But we need them to be ready for second grade.'” She added, “Before, you had students who really, in first grade, couldn’t even spell their name properly. So, it was very difficult and heartbreaking.”
Time constraints and defined lessons are examples of what teachers follow, and Baker said they make it almost impossible to spend much time on ideas.
“The curriculum is very well written. It takes the fun out of it. It takes away love,” said Baker.
Baker held the highest grade in the state on the overall effectiveness scale – a 5. She explained that teachers face incredible pressure to achieve that success. And, those scores affect everything, even hiring.
“If your students come in and they’re so low, and you can’t bring them up to the acceptance rate, then those grades reflect on you,” she said.
If the scores are low, the administrators check the class frequently. The baker says there is a problem with that practice.
“You don’t know the kid on the floor, screaming and crying, or throwing things on the floor, or in the classroom, when you’re doing my inspection. You don’t know what happened to that kid last night.” She added, “It’s the kinds of things that don’t get considered all the time.”
Despite the pressure, Baker pushed forward. The final straw came when a private company wrote to Ohio.
He was offered a substantial promotion for a position he was concerned about. But, out of curiosity, she also applied for a teaching license.
“I couldn’t believe that, with my master’s degree in education, and years of experience, I was being paid almost double what I was making in Nashville. And that’s, that was amazing to me,” she said.
Baker said she still thinks about her friends who are still there and her students who were the real reason she kept going for so long – until her spirit finally broke.
“I pray for him every day,” Baker said. “I miss the children. I miss them so much. Now, it makes me nervous. But, right now, I don’t see myself going back to class. Um, maybe one day, you know, but for now. I don’t think I can.”
Source : www.wkrn.com