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Teachers Respond: Veteran Teachers Cry In Their Cars, Too

LA Johnson

One in 10 teachers will quit by the end of their first year — and getting through October and November is especially tough. Having someone to support you along the way can help.

Turns out there's a toolkit to help — as we wrote about this week. Thousands chimed in on Facebook and Twitter, and in the comments section. Here are some takeaways from the discussion.

The "disillusionment phase" goes by another name:

"They may call it the 'Disillusionment Phase' in this article ... it's actually DEVOLSON (dark evil vortex of late September, October, and November). It doesn't only hit first year teachers." — Jill Gorman Turner, on Facebook

Struggling as a new teacher is common:

"I can remember wishing several times that first year, 'maybe no one will show up today!' " — Kodyo, on NPR.org

"I am a first year teacher and I have been struggling. This article really resonated with me and reading these comments makes me feel like I'm not totally alone. I feel like I am drowning most days and I often cry in my car ... I just feel so overwhelmed sometimes. It will get better, It will get better, It will get better." — Melissa Ivins, on NPR.org

And experienced teachers can be right there with them:

"Hey, veteran teachers, it's still okay to cry in your car. Hopefully it happens less often, but if you're still crying it means you're still caring and that's a good thing." — Hilary Schardein, on Facebook

"Sometimes veteran teachers cry in their cars too. After 31 years of kids, parents and meetings a good cry (and a glass of wine) can help you gain perspective and try again the next day." — Lauren Schwab, on Facebook

But many veterans did say it gets better:

"There is such a huge learning curve your first 3 yrs. You are not going to be awesome until you are at least 3-5 years in. Hang in there. You'll get better." — Jackie Doerner, on Facebook

Some readers chimed in with solutions, ranging from systemic ... :

"I love working in education but - we need a national movement to improve pay, class sizes, performance assessment, and professional development." — Jeff Bockert, on Facebook

... to incremental:

" ... Just stick to it, cry when you need to, and when you are having a bad day, start picturing the kids who make your day good ..." — barthur, on npr.org

And some said, actually, it's not OK to cry in your car:

"Crying in your car is not something to be ashamed of, however it absolutely is not okay. There is too much pressure on teachers and their students and not enough support." — Sarah Simone, on Facebook

A lot of people used the story to reach out to someone specific:

"Patty Clohessy.... this is why imma pick u up everyday from school and bring donuts" — Tasha Wierzal, on Facebook

"TPS teachers - don't forget to check on your 1st yr colleagues and lend a helping hand! #SuccessTPS #TeachersROCK" — Deborah A. Gist, on Twitter

But also to no one in particular:

"Know a new(ish) teacher? Give him/her a hug, a latte, or a break. Teaching is hard, especially when you are new." — Michelle Makus Shory, on Twitter

"I have enjoyed the discussion with my fellow teachers, newbies and grey and grizzled veterans alike, but now I have to make a test. Best of luck, and hang in there. What we do is worth doing to the best of our ability!" — Beverly Arthur, on NPR.org

So, what do you think? Is it OK to cry in your car? Do you have advice for new teachers? We're on Twitter at @npr_ed. Our Facebook page is here or you can drop us an email at NPREd@npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Meg Anderson is an editor on NPR's Investigations team, where she shapes the team's groundbreaking work for radio, digital and social platforms. She served as a producer on the Peabody Award-winning series Lost Mothers, which investigated the high rate of maternal mortality in the United States. She also does her own original reporting for the team, including the series Heat and Health in American Cities, which won multiple awards, and the story of a COVID-19 outbreak in a Black community and the systemic factors at play. She also completed a fellowship as a local reporter for WAMU, the public radio station for Washington, D.C. Before joining the Investigations team, she worked on NPR's politics desk, education desk and on Morning Edition. Her roots are in the Midwest, where she graduated with a Master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.