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Monday, November 07, 2016

Picking up the Pieces: Teaching Trials

There's little room for passion, error, or emotion in some places.

If any of those attributes emerge, it's a call for reprimand, scolding, and punishment.

Mostly it's a follow the leader climate with little room for voice, choice, creativity, or care.

Why have I stayed so long?

It wasn't like this in the early days. Then we all worked together to do our best by students. Actually in the recent past, though there were severe challenges, there was also some room for creativity--we could host a cardboard challenge, Rube Goldberg project, math movies, and more.

But now, it's tight protocols--so tight that a teacher hardly has to think, just follow the orders set and use the worksheets linked. This is so demeaning for educators and students especially when there's a world of wonderful tools, ideas, and creativity possible.

On one hand someone is lauding the creativity and on the other they're telling you not to think or talk that way--stick to the script, mind the scores.

I'm so discouraged tonight.

Yes, I became emotional when my scores were described as "untrusting" by one--I worked diligently on that data and tried to make it just right for the educators in the group, but it wasn't satisfactory and then served as the focus of many critical comments.

Then when I wanted to talk about it, a meeting was denied, and instead someone else, distanced from the students and work, was given the job to lead the effort, to guide my work for the near future.

What I want is so simple. I just want to be able to do a good job, work with colleagues to discuss and cull the best strategies,  try out new ideas/tools, and support my students, their families, and colleagues. This is not a big deal, and it's a wonder why it has to be so controlled, scripted, and scrutinized.

Perhaps if I didn't ask questions, offer ideas, and seek clarification, I'd just be able to do as I want. That's what colleagues continually advise, "Just keep your door shut and do what you want, but don't tell anyone." They're probably wiser than me, but I don't think schools have to be this way. I truly think that schools can be places where educators are free to share, discuss ideas, work together to think about and help children, and collectively and individually do their best work.

I've said it a million times, I'm not perfect, I don't know it all, but I truly want to do a good job with the freedom to make choices based on my experience, study, and skill. To be told what to do with little room for autonomy, voice, and choice, is like putting a noose around my head. It's so hard to breathe or be alive in these situations. Why does it have to be this way?

I know I'm not alone. I've heard other educators talk about this. It's a challenging place to be.  I'm sure a good night's rest will bring some wisdom. Or if you have some to spare, let me know.