A JOURNEY IN RUNNING, LIVING, LAUGHING AND LOVING

An open letter to anyone who has ever been educated

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

This blog is dedicated to anyone in Indiana who has ever been a teacher, married a teacher, dated a teacher, been friends with a teacher, known a teacher, or been taught by a teacher. Or, if you can spell the word teacher. This blog is for you too. 

My friend Shannon had a quote by Carl Jung up today on her away message status: "What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Here is the key to your earthly pursuits." This struck a GIANT chord with me. 

As a child, I used to play school for hours. HOURS, people. I would literally go through an entire school day. I would "teach" different subjects -- math, letter writing, drawing, and, naturally, recess. My brother used to HATE playing with me because I really would make us play for an entire school day. He'd be bored senseless while I'd be just getting started. I loved playing school. 

I don't think there was ever a doubt in my mind that I would become a teacher. It was the only career that ever made sense to me. I never really even considered other options. There's something about knowing that I get to pass on my passion for learning and caring for others that makes me love my lot in life. I don't know what I'd do if I wasn't a teacher. I've never even considered it. 

To say that teachers in Indiana (and, I'm sure, elsewhere) are under an exorbitant amount of pressure right now would be a giant, GIANT understatement. You see, we are stressed. I will spare you all the details, but what it boils down to is turning our students into numbers so that we can show that we are, of course, fantastic teachers, and they are, of course, learning all sorts of things.  I find a lot of fault in this system, for so many reasons, but mostly because I don't think learning can be calculated by turning kids into digits and percentages on a spreadsheet. I think learning -- real learning, not memorization -- is hard to quantify. Therein lies the problem, of course, because how do you really measure learning? 

Because of this, I have felt more stress in my job this year than ever before. I feel more stress this year than when I was advising both the newspaper AND yearbook WHILE getting my master's. That is some serious pressure, people. 

I don't have a solution to this problem. I don't know what the right answer is. And as much as I would like to shut my classroom door and do my very best to educate intelligent, well-rounded, and well-spoken students who can articulate their ideas, I can't ignore what the state is mandating we do. So, I try my best to stay positive. I put in extra hours at work looking at spreadsheets. I think about how I will revamp my tests. I neglect time with others, or, hell, even down time for myself, so that I can understand what SLO and IGM are and what Common Core Standards are asking me to do. I go in earlier. I stay later. I try to contain my frustration because cluing the kids in isn't fair (because, damnit, it's not their fault that all of this is happening). 

The one consolation in all of this, is, like my coworker Erica has pointed out, we're all in this together. We're all trying to figure this out with little guidance and a lot of pressure from the state. We're trying to keep our chins up when others are interested in beating us down. We're doing our very best. And I just pray it's enough.

One of my former English teachers, and someone who inspired me to become an English teacher, had this up as her away message tonight on Facebook. I have never EVER been one to spout my political views, but I ask you, if you vote in Indiana, to read the post below and get educated about Glenda Ritz. I truly believe she will work with teachers, not against them, to help make education in Indiana top notch.

"If you have ever been my student or if you were ever a student of any teacher, please read this: Even if you are voting Republican, PLEASE split your ticket to vote for Glenda Ritz for State Superintendent. She is a friend of teachers who
 will work hard to keep class sizes small and make sure standardized test scores are not the only measure of teacher effectiveness. I don't think I can last four more years under the current superintendent Bennett. Above all, VOTE!"

4 comments:

  1. Know your heart is in the right place & doing the best you can is all you can do. Hopefully all this will benefit the children & make way for a brighter future for them. There's only so much you can do as a teacher - you can teach but you can't "make them learn". There needs to be a more fair way to judge the quality of your work. I can understand the frustration in all of this. Stay true to your heart & be the best you can be! Big hugs & hang tough :)

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  2. Thanks, Sherry. :/ I love the kids so much and I love my job so much, but it's tough to stay positive with all the crud. I'm trying to combat the crud with positivity, and most days, it even works!

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  3. Great blog Angela. I feel exactly the same way. Staying positive is difficult. We have some big challenges ahead of us but we will succeed. Xoxo

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