I had this dream the other night that I was riding in a car, but I wasn't driving. I was on a freeway, and I saw two children by the side of the road. "Stop, stop there are lost children," I told the driver. When we pulled over, one of the children had Down's Syndrome. She didn't know where her parents were, and she didn't know how to tell me. We followed a long path, but I just remember the strong urge to help her find her way. That feeling from my dream was a really familiar feeling. I feel it every day.
It is a feeling like my best isn't good enough.
In the past, I have struggled with confidence in my ability to teach. In the past, I have struggled with competence in my ability to teach. This year it is different. I really am the best I have ever been as a teacher. I feel happy and confident. I know how to reach my students. I am just truly overwhelmed by the case load of students I am dealing with. I have three students that aren't reading. I wake up all the time thinking about when I am going to teach them to read. More than that, I worry that I am spending so much time with the lowest students that I am neglecting other significant need, and I know that this IS the case.
There is all of this discussion recentely about the superior performance of charter schools in America. I get it that there are some great charter schools out there. Yet, being a really successful charter school seems less remarkable than being a successful public school.
Down the road from my school, is a charter school which by test scores out performs my highly performing public school. A lot of parents want their children to go there, but they won't take just anyone. They take students that will perform and then those students do perform.
My school and my classroom, though seems more American to me. We should have an inscription reading, "Give me your huddled masses, give me your non-English speakers, give me your disabled and impoverished yearning to learn."
On days when I am so tired, I think about the private and charter schools that don't take the tough cases. I think about a vastly smaller number of IEP meetings and not writing ILLPS. I think about how nice it would be not to call disconnected numbers. I think about getting test scores that weren't earned through blood, sweat, and tears. Then, I think about faces.
How could I not be happy to have my quiet little non-reader? How much would I be missing if I never met my little friend with a severe disability? How rewarding is it to here my monolingual student from China converse in English? Like the sick need a doctor, the tough cases need a teacher; and I am that teacher.
I am not superman and sometimes my best isn't good enough to meet every need, but until superman or the education fairy or whatever cure all people are expecting arrives I'll do all I can for whoever walks into my classroom.