A short rant from a teacher's perspective
|So here we go, another big push. As of the end of this school year in June my current school will be no more, and I will be back to the drawing board of job hunting for September.
What bothers me the most about this is not that I have to find another job. What keeps me from wanting to get out of bed in the morning are the unrealistic expectations placed on students and teachers, especially in urban schools.
As teachers we are not expected to be human. We must be mythological creatures come to life, waving wands and projecting magical beams of reparation from our fingertips - fixing years of damage that you (as a good teacher and as a stable adult figure) did not inflict, yet you are responsible for putting the pieces back together. Here's the bonus! You have less than two years to right dozens of years of wrong. Put Humpty Dumpty back together again in the time it takes to recite the riddle.
Here's an even better bonus. Your state is going to judge you and your children on the results of multiple choice test scores because you know tests are the most effective way of determining who or what you will become as a human being (yes, sarcasm, I live on it).
For many years, I have worked with children who come from mentally, emotionally, and socially unstable environments, all the way back from their early childhood years. There is a popular scientific notion that who we become is largely shaped between the ages of 2-6. I have always been on the fence with this theory, sometimes leaning more towards the side that says this isn't true. The damage done to disadvantaged children is not irreparable, but it sure as hell takes a lot more time than two school years to glue the pieces back together. Even then, as teachers, we fear every day that the glue will not hold.
On a regular basis, I wonder, worry, and pray for former students who graduated from high school, but I knew deep in my heart weren't ready for the mud-slinging of "real life" and the oil-slicked climb up those never ending ladders to contentment.
Our education system simply doesn't want students in "general education" to do better when we are asked to wave our wands and make kids who are reading at a 4th grade level to master 9th grade tasks in 180 days or less. If I have children who don't know the meaning of the word "justified" nor can they use it in the correct context, I am sure as hell not going to ask said children to identify the irony in Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery". If I have children who cannot effectively put a 5+ sentence paragraph together, excuse me government officials, I am not going to expect those kids to write a 5+ page research essay in less than a year.
I feel like I can create my own version of the movie, La La Land, based on how our system works, except there is no Ryan Gosling and there are few stars to reach for.
Our education system simply doesn't want our kids to do better when the only solution to a decades-old problem is to give disadvantaged kids more inconsistency and instability in their lives by closing schools that may have a chance with time and assistance.
In my four years of high school teaching, this is the second time I have been forced to find another position. Personally, there is nothing more discouraging and downright painful to feel expendable and to feel like you are to blame. Every day a good young teacher has to remind himself or herself, "I am human, and I am doing the best I can." Because after the students get bounced around, teachers get punished next. But again, being human is simply never good enough.
Professions where you are not allowed or expected to be human:
Fire and Rescue
and of course, rounding out this list that I know should be longer,
There are six other countries that kill the US in literacy - Finland, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland. This has been the case for many years now. What do they do differently? What kind of bars do they raise and leap over every year? Well, that's a whole other article.