Cross-posted from my site, Jersey Jazzman.
And so another summer comes to a close, and those of us who actually teach children are headed back to our first jobs (aside from raising our families).
We’ll be in our classrooms, dealing with innumerate evaluation systems put together by people who have no idea what it’s like to teach in a public school. We’ll be trying to figure out how we can prepare our kids for the almighty state exam without killing the love they have for learning. We’ll be educating any child who walks through the doors of our schools while others extoll the virtues of “choice.”
We’ll be struggling — and yes, sometimes failing — to figure out how to run our classrooms in a way that respects all of our students, no matter who they are or where they come from. We’ll fail because we’re human; those of us who’ve been on the job for a few years are humble enough to have figured that one out. We’ll fail and be our own worst critics afterward, because that’s who we are and that’s what we do.
We’ll be working to get better, though. We’ll turn to our colleagues for support and advice and we’ll listen to our parents and our students and we’ll keep running that long, tough mudder toward improvement. Charlotte Danielson’s rubric will catch us on bad days where we’re “teacher-centered” — but we’ll keep trying.
Some of us will give up. This isn’t a job for everyone and a fair number of us figure that out pretty quickly. Those of us who have some wear on our tires will wave goodbye and grin ruefully. We told you. We told you…
We’re already steeling ourselves for the special stupidity an election season brings to the world of education policy. We’re going to get blamed for a whole host of problems: inequality, poverty, segregation, racism, economic malaise. Of course, we didn’t create any of these issues on our own — but we’re the ones who are expected to fix it all.
“The best anti-poverty program is a good education!” the politicians will proclaim, all while slashing our budgets and breaking their promises to us about our middle-class benefits. If only us teachers were better! If only we really cared about our students — you know, like the people who collect paychecks from 501(c)3’s that are backed by billionaires! They are the ones speaking up for the children, not us — and certainly not our disgusting unions!
These fine, reformy folks are the people who really know what teachers are thinking! Gadflies like me and all the others who are on my blogroll are outliers! How could people like that intemperate jerk Jersey Jazzman, or Peter Greene, or Marie Corfield, or Awo Okaikor Aryee-Price, or Katie Osgood, or Jose Luis Vilson, or Arthur Goldstein, or Gary Rubinstein, or Mercedes Schneider* possibly know what teachers are actually thinking!
After all, they’re only teachers…
We’ll listen to this crap, mutter a few curses under our breath, and go back to our schools. We’ll pick up our pointers and batons and wipeboard markers and paintbrushes and rulers and calculators and we’ll ignore the idiotic union bashing and the preening self-regard and the intellectually lazy paeans to “miracle” schools — because that’s what we do when it’s time to teach.
But when class is over, we’ll be right here: defending our schools, defending our profession, defending our students. Good luck in 2017 trying to keep us down, reformers — you’re going to need it.
Much more to come; stand by…
* I left so many of you out, and I didn’t include many of you who work through other forms of social media than blogs, or even more importantly as real-time/space organizers. I am very grateful for all you do — many, many thanks.