In education, there’s always a cause the teacher next door would have me join. There are new standards, new technologies (that generally make things slower and more tedious than the pen and paper method ever did), new pedagogies, new generations with specific iniquities and faults, new town meetings or board meetings to go to, new superintendents, etc… And there is always someone fighting for or against, and they’d have me fight alongside them.
I never do.
Most of the causes that come through seem silly to me. If I have to start posting grades online with an inferior system, that’s fine. If I have to implement the common core standards in high school classes full of kids who’ve spent their previous years of education with different and lower expectations on them, I will. I will prepare kids to take a standardized test that seems stupid to me. I will pick up an extra class, sponsor whatever club needs sponsoring… I will even keep on coming if I’m RIF-fed/laid off 3 years in a row. All of that is fine.
Sticking it out as a lifer in education requires a unique combo of naivete, rebellion, and realism. The naivete allows a teacher to believe wholeheartedly in something she’s never seen… in a lazy student, a broken system, or herself. The rebellion is important because teachers need to be able to give the world the finger every time it points out how little we make(cha-ching!), how much higher the Chinese test scores are, and how irrelevant our content is in most situations. Finally, the realism is there to keep teachers grounded so that they don’t abandon what can actually be done for what ought to be done, but is impossible.
I take full responsibility for my naivete and realism. I have a believing heart that hopes in the promise of each moment, although I can describe in great clarity what actually has happened (or sometimes even what probably will happen). I also have a bit of a rebel in me, but only in the sense that I never want people to feel like they have me figured out and I always want a new tattoo. That being said, I’m beginning to feel like the pieces of me don’t add up to what it takes to teach for a lifetime.
This year, there are crazy things going on at my school, and I don’t particularly feel like weathering them. I feel like working at Starbucks because I’d much rather have some ridiculous coffee snob frustrated because I didn’t get his coffee to the right temp or I added an extra pump of peppermint than feel the sense of injustice that currently permeates the halls of the school I work at. Teachers are treated pretty terribly in general, but right now, in particular, it seems like the system is trying to squash us underfoot.
Thus, I’ve been thinking about praying about going back to school to get my masters. I’ve settled into owning a house and don’t feel any stress anymore about making my mortgage payment, and I feel pretty ready not to work six/fifths next year, so maybe it’s the perfect time to study a bit and give myself some career options. Anything would be better than this right now.