No Quiet Quitting Pt. 1: Surviving a Toxic Environment

There’s been a lot of talk about quiet quitting amongst teachers. I get the idea considering the current environment. COVID-19 has impacted teachers; many teachers are struggling for various reasons and that’s led to some leaving the profession.

Whether it’s working with students as they readjust to in-person instruction, and the rigor associated with it, or managing a lack of planning/work time due to filling in due to teacher shortages. In any case, teachers are dealing with a lot.

With that in mind, it makes sense that some teachers might consider quietly quitting their work.

However, quiet quitting

does a disservice to students and their families, who expect teachers to provide their children with the tools to navigate a constantly changing world… particularly when the students are Black and Latino/a attending school in the city.

These students deal with enough; structural and budget challenges where they attend school, few teachers who look like them (if any), and the lack of culturally affirming /culturally relevant instruction. Adding quiet quitting to the equation yields results even worse than one could imagine.

I would advise teachers to refrain from this practice—whether they teach in an urban, rural or suburban setting. Definitely not those who primarily teach Black and Latino/a students. Is teaching stressful? Yes, if you strive to do it right. But there are things one can do as an educator to help alleviate the stress of the job. Here are some suggestions to consider:

  1. Find affinity spaces outside of your school building. While it would be nice to find places of affirmation and support within your school building, it’s no guarantee that such a place exists within any given school and/or staff. Teachers must do the work of finding those spaces outside of their school building where they are supported and built back up when torn down. Anecdotal nuggets may have to come from the outside.
  2. Don’t take any aspect of work home (drama, paperwork, anger/anxiety). As a sports fan, I’ve heard all of the various clichés. But one of the truest clichés is leaving it all on the field or the court. That simply means give your best efforts and walk away knowing that you did just that. Teachers must take the same approach; give it your all in the classroom each day and go home knowing that you did. Don’t bring any of the work or drama of the school day home; don’t worry, it’ll will be there waiting for you the next day.
  3. Give you’re all to the students. This may seem like “duh, of course.” But when you considered all the administrative paperwork (and digital paper work) teachers have to do, i.e. lesson plans, grading, SGOs, PIPs, portfolios, etc., there man not be much left for students when teachers walk in the classroom. That stuff can drain a teacher. So, don’t make it the first priority. Teaching is the first thing; all other things will fall into place. Recognize that energy is best spent with children in the classroom, not on a laptop typing.
  4. Manage what’s under your supervision well. As a teacher, you can only do so much. Therefore, do well with all things under your authority i.e. classes, students, parents, extracurriculars, etc. Don’t add extra work to your plate. Master the meal in front of you. Teach well, mentor well, coach well, supervise well, counsel well. If there is something under your purview that is hindering your performance, consider removing it.
  5. Build up your mind, body and spirit (exercise, prayer/meditation, read to grow). Teachers must feed and strengthen their spirit, body and mind prior to arriving to the classroom. Get enough exercise, get sufficient sleep, eat healthy, get daily physical, eye and dental checkups. Engage in any mental/spiritual restoration align one’s spirit with one’s purpose, passion and physical capacity through prayer and/or meditation. One can only build others when they themselves are built up.

Again, teaching is hard work—especially when done right. But we do this work either for the love of your people, the desire to equip young people with the tools to be successful, the goal of producing good citizens or all three. So, we cannot let anything compromise our mission or the work to see it through. Keep young people at the front of your mind and the BS at the back of it.

Let’s continue to press towards the mark!


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