This is a new step for me because I have been talking about education in one form or another for quite a while to co-teachers, friends, family and Facebook but this is the first time I have taken my opinions out of private conversations and into the public domain. I’m doing so now because I think it is time for all of us to stop and think about what we are doing to our students and I hope this will be a place where I can stop and think and others can join me.
Just so we are clear, I teach in an urban middle school, with real children. Children who are hungry, snarky, loving, angry, amazing, strange, wonderful, happy, feisty, and very, very real. Frankly, we don’t have the time or interest to pretend that we are anything but real. Some days we learn a lot. Some days we don’t, and there is no blame in that. Just like in any industry, or business, or creative endeavor, sometimes you approach something new with a perfect plan only to realize when you are in the middle of the stream that your waders have a hole in them and you are hip deep in some very cold water. It was standing in that metaphorical cold water this year that made me realize that it was time to stop standing there alone where I could, conceivably, get ‘frozen out’ and reach out to a broader audience to see if I could get myself back on solid ground. I realized I was tired of hashing over the same issues with the same people or talking about the opinions of so called experts over and over again when I knew they were no experts at all.
Incidentally, I don’t pretend to be an expert, just someone who is incredibly well educated and has been trained for almost two decades to do the job I do. The difference between my opinions and those of a great many people talking about education today is that I am an educator. A real one, not retired, not working for a snazzy company working with a school, nor am I working part time. I am a full time, content area teacher with five certifications and 19 years of teaching experience working with students from preschool through high school. I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree and am working on a dissertation for my PhD so I have not only done the job, I’ve kept up on best practices, read new literature, and kept current on the research as much as possible. What really matters though is that I love what I do. The teaching that is, not the meetings or paperwork, those completely suck the life out of me. I do love teaching though. I love to learn and I have always loved getting my students excited about learning. What I emphatically do not love is watching my profession be systematically attacked and feeling defensive when someone asks me what I do for a living. I don’t think it benefits any of us to tear education apart. Do changes need to be made? Yes. Do we need to destroy everything that came before right now? No.
So let’s take some time to stop and think.