Sunday, May 31, 2015

Musings on Change, Purposes, and Why We Do It

So this wasn't a really good year for me, so I've been quiet.  For all two of you that read this, thanks for understanding.  I'm just not really happy with how education has changed in the past 13 years I've been teaching, and hit critical mass in January.  Then, for the first time, I really, seriously thought that if I could find a way to quit, or retire early, I would.

And it had nothing to do with the kids (who were a handful).

It had everything to do with The System.

I did not, DID NOT, get into this profession to teach kids to take a test.  I don't talk much about my faith on here, but I was called to be a teacher.  I was working in the corporate environment and went back to school (at 38) to teach because it was what I was called, or meant to do.  It wasn't for the money, it wasn't for the summers off (insert laughter here because we all know that's a lie), it wasn't for any other reason than to help kids, love on kids, make a difference in their lives.

And every year The System has made it harder and harder to do what I know is best for my kids.

We went from a one paragraph hand written lesson plan to a daily two-page typed lesson plan that was more of a script than a plan.  We were told to have our lessons done so that a sub could step right in and take over in case we weren't at school.  Many of us at The School shook our heads and realized right then and there that we weren't teachers, we were script-readers.

Our District, and The School, are obsessed with data.  Everything is tied to data.  And we had meetings after meeting after meeting to discuss testing data, behavior data, data, data, data.  We were ranked, as teachers, based on how our kids did on Benchmark tests.  (And this, after we were assured 8 years ago when Benchmarks came in that they "would never be used to rank or evaluate teachers".)  What those rankings tell us is that kids in high poverty buildings (like mine) don't do as well as kids in low poverty buildings (like the teachers at the top of the list).  But we can't say that.  Because The Administration considers that an excuse.  Even though professional statisticians will tell you that standardized testing is basically a measurement of poverty.  And we were told to differentiate all the time, but then were told to give each kid the same test.  Add in directives from above that are even more conflicting, and all you have is disillusion and confusion.

And I think this is insane.

And I missed working with kids, getting to know kids, because all we do is test, test, test, and analyze analyze and analyze and we've lost track of the fact that these are kids, not test scores.

So I was burned out, annoyed, unhappy and desperate to find a way out of a system I hate.  Not to mention that I was putting in 12-14 hour days, weekends, and my life was nothing but grading, lessons and grading and lessons.  But I have 13 years in, and I can't afford to walk away just yet.

And since my dad died two and a half years ago, my priorities have changed. Spending time with people I love is more important than any job.  That's it.  I'm really not willing to give up that time anymore.  When one of my "kids" wants me to come watch him play paintball, or baseball, I want to say yes, and not worry that I have 100 quizzes to grade.  And when my husband wants to watch a movie and snuggle, I want to be able to do that and not worry about the plans that needed to be made.

And then I got offered the most incredible position at The School.

But I have to run, so I'll fill ya'll in later.  Time to spend with my big kids.


Jennifer said...

Cliffhanger!! I feel like I just got to watch the season finale of my favorite show and now I have to wait all summer to find out what happens!!! I miss you, Madame Bluebird.

Teacher gardener said...

I am one of your "two" readers who has missed you this year. I knew something had to be wrong. I am teaching down here in Huntsville. My school (private) is getting a new curriculum director who's been teaching in your area. I knew things had to be bad since she left after 15 yrs. Bless you. I hope this means we will be hearing more from you. :)

druin said...

I have read your blog for years and I'm so happy to see you posting again. I've felt your frustrations over the years, so I'm happy that brighter days are ahead for you.

I hope you have a restful summer!

angie said...

Take some time this summer just for you! Meditate, pray, or smell the roses. I've finished my 30th year of teaching and some years are just hellish. That was last year for me at my school. New administration this year so that helped but the testing, data, PLC meetings about the data, ugh!

Tracey Brumlik said...

I have one year and I retire.

Lisa said...

I have checked for new posts as much as I check all the other blogs I'm following and hope for more news from you from now on, good or bad. Here in Germany we are far away from the situation you describe and I hope that the 5 year rule will not apley for this testing and data crazyness you have going on. I doubt that I would keep teaching under these conditions and hope that your new job offers a more rewarding enviroment for you.

Ms Characterized said...

I'm reading too, to hear what happens next -- and see if the blog continues.

I feel your pain. Datamania has also hit the humanities. Keep the faith.

angie said...

I'm happy to see you posting again. I get the data-driven instruction part, I hate it and it is such a drain on anything developmentally appropriate. Some years are just grueling. That was my year last year but things were so much better this year. So relax this summer and be good to yourself!