The book Breaking the Silence: My Final Forty Days as a Public School Teacher is both easy and difficult to read.
It's an easy read because Shannon Hernandez's memoir is honest and straightforward. She willingly opens herself up to the reader, offering up her vulnerability. For those who aren't working as a teacher in a public school, her account is eye-opening. For those who do teach or have taught recently, each page brings about an "amen" or makes the reader nod their head knowingly.
It's excruciating to read because from the very title, the cat's out of the bag. The reader knows how it's going to end. This is the story of a former teacher. These days, most new teachers leave within five years. It's that hard of a job, so anytime a talented and dedicated educator leaves the field, it's a loss.
However, the story doesn't end there. Hernandez started up her own business, and gave birth to it while she was still teaching, since she had made the decision that she deserved happiness. She deserved to do work that brought her joy. She loved teaching. It was her mission. It was a part of her. But today so much of the teaching job doesn't involve teaching. It's paperwork. It's data driven. It's purposeless professional development.
And when so much of a teacher's time and energy is sucked dry by non-teaching duties, it's disheartening.
Add to that the crazy allegations that are sometimes made against teachers, and it's more than clear why Hernandez had to leave the classroom. Today, there are teachers who are afraid to put a hand on a student's shoulder in encouragement. There are teachers who are afraid to hug a student. Teachers must be conscious at every moment. We can't tutor a student one-on-one without other students in the room, since there would be no witnesses. It's sad.
I've been a teacher since 1991. Having worked in several school districts, I realize how fortunate I am now to have a wonderful principal. He's appreciative, has a great sense of humor, and is super-sharp. He also has a coach mentality when it comes to the staff, the kids and the parents... meaning he is tough and encouraging and is never afraid to get onto the field and get a little dirty.
But I haven't always been so lucky...
Check out Shannon Hernandez's book Breaking the Silence, and check out her out at www.myfinal40days.com to find out more.