Wednesday, December 9, 2009


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.


luckeyfrog said...

I completely understand what you mean. There seems to be so little faith in teachers to do what's right. Schools are constantly looking to improve by adding a "proven" program. I'm a licensed teacher who's been reduced to teaching my intensive kids with a purely scripted program. And while it might give kids the rudimentary skills of reading, it doesn't give them any joy or love of reading.

The world of education just goes back and forth between methods and programs and the "right" way to do things. I student taught in the same corporation where I teach now, but at a different school, and it is amazing what was expected at one school compared to what is expected at another- and it's constantly changing.

I think the challenge is being expected to constantly change what's expected of you as a teacher. Even in the same school, new things are added every year. It's honestly a little demeaning that so little trust is placed in the teachers' abilities and ideas.

Anyway, sorry- this is YOUR blog! Haha. :) You just hit on a topic that I think is so true. Teachers aren't leaving for the reasons some people think.

ms.understood said...

I love long comments! It's like a present left on my blog. I love Writing, but I also love conversation, discussion, and feedback. If I didn't, I would keep a private journal instead of a blog.

Debor said...

Reading this post, I could swear you work at my school, or at least in my school district.

I have been a teacher for over 20 years. This year I have felt more overwhelmed by the pushes and pulls of legislation, NCLB, this new program, that new program, new remediation expectations... I am exhausted. To save my health and sanity, I have quit trying to keep up with it all.

I am a good teacher, with lots of experience. I have always been proud of what I do. I plan to quit at the end of this year. My health can't take any more of the 60 hour weeks I'm putting in.

This is a noble profession, and I wish you the best. I hope you find a way to create a balance between your personal life (make sure you have one!) and your career, so you can continue to make a difference for children for years to come.