I have to admit that I have really struggled in writing this post. It is something that I need to write today, but I’ve been having a hard time with the how.
That is because I have made one decision differently than many of you.
It is not my intent to sound judgemental. We each need to take different paths, in order to find our own peace and happiness, and to contribute in the way that is most meaningful to us. I respect the journeys that each of you are on.
And my journey at this time, involves me continuing to teach. In spite of the fact that I was less than happy in my last job. In spite of the fact that I disagree with many things going on in education right now. And, yes, in spite of the fact that school is one of the places where kids learn to “follow the script.”
Public sentiment toward teachers is not what it used to be. I remember, only a few years ago, what people would say when I told them that I taught special education. Basically, I was regarded as a saint, which made me feel very uncomfortable. Now the response is neutral, at best. But that is all right. I don’t need to look to the outside, to find out that what I do matters.
That is right. What I do matters.
Why does it matter?
- I’ve taught numerous teenagers to read, from scratch. You can’t say that being literate isn’t life-changing and important.
- Yes, schools are set up to prepare kids to follow the script. But that is because society is based on the script, and schools are a part of society. I carry my values with me, into the classroom. I might be the first person to show my students that there ARE alternatives to the life we’re “supposed” to lead. I might be the first person to tell them that their crazy dreams are possible.
- Adolescence is a difficult time, as kids are moving away from their parents and trying to define themselves. I am one more adult that they can form a relationship with–a positive role model, someone who has been through the fire. I carry my experiences with me, even if I don’t share all of them with my students.
- Not all students come from supportive homes. For some kids, I might be the only person ever to believe in them. That can have a huge impact.
Yes, there have been plenty of changes in education. But I refuse to believe that I “can’t” teach students certain things, or in a certain way. I most certainly can, and do. Last year, I decided to let go of survival mode, and just do what is right, without concern for my evaluation. I’m setting up such a lifestyle, that having to live on a smaller paycheck (if I lost a teaching job) would not be devastating. I’m there for my students, not for my evaluation.
And do you know what’s interesting? When I slowed down, and taught my students creatively, their test scores went up anyway!
I do know that I am not following the path that most teachers follow. I have lost my years toward retirement, by moving to another state 10 years into my career. And I intend to cross the ocean well before I’ve spent 30 years in my current position! But, for now, teaching is what I am doing.
And I am doing it because it matters.
If you still want to join me in my $1 a month challenge, there are 14 days left!