How do you know if you are doing what you are doing because it is really the right thing or if you are just doing it because it's the obvious thing? How do you know if you're just doing something because you're scared to try something else? I think the first two years of teaching were just a blur for me because I was learning how to do it and just trying to make sense of the complex task. Now, I'm in a different phase though. It's not that I have it all figured out, but I have a basic idea of how to be effective. I am realizing that "this is it" (so to speak) and wondering if it really is the right place for me.
I don't harbor any idealism that says the world of education will fall without me. I know there are lots of good teachers who care, and I think if I wasn't doing my particular job someone else would. So, I can't assume that this career is right because I am personally needed here.
I am only twenty-four years old, and I know I could switch fields entirely if I wanted to. So, I can't say that I don't have any other options.
I heard the statistic that two out of every three new teachers leave education in the first three years. In my third year, I can see why that is. Now that I have had some time to learn the job, I have to decide if it really is something I want to continue.
It's not the workload that is putting these thoughts in my head. It's certainly not the kids. It's the politics. Already, I have been subjected to so many conflicting theories, methods, and programs that change like the wind. I feel like sound instruction and common sense are thrown out the window.
I was sitting at a staff development meeting today, and they told us that our new intervention program required a 10 minute intervention per targeted student that would take place four days a week. This wouldn't be such a big deal except that they want us to do it separately for every standard that every individual student is targeted in. Impossible! Yet, we're told not to worry because we will have many meetings to solve this problem.
Then, I opened up my e-mail (you can probably guess how much I was listening) and found an article about the fallacy of giving zeroes when students don't turn in work.
I have actually been measurably effective this year. That is to say that my class is overwhelmingly meeting benchmarks, and I don't have any students not showing growth.
There is no stability in public education, though. We can't agree on a goal. We can't agree on a budget. We can't stick to a method. We can't even agree on curriculum. I hate watching the news these days because I feel my blood pressure rising when I see ripples that will soon reach my classroom. When will I not be allowed to have anymore supplies? How long until I'm not allowed to give a failing grade? How long until I can't put anyone in resource?
I have serious doubts about where this field is going. I just do. I consider education a Social Service, yet the tide of public opinion seems to be that it is a business. They want to make us accountable for results, but the results don't pay (quite literally)! In a business capital and results are directly correlated. As one increases, so does the other. In education, we are expected to create resources out of nothing! Could we be extremely effective if class size were drastically reduced? Absolutely, but we can't afford it. I am just not sure that I can spend the rest of my professional life being told to make time and money. I want results too, but without accountability for students and without resources the level of result being demanded is unreasonable.