My friends and I used to talk about how many kids we will have taught when we finally retire, how many of those kids we really had a personal connection with, how many of those kids we perhaps also impacted their families. We used to talk about perfecting our craft, what we did last year, what we want to do better.
Sometimes we would talk about our perfect classrooms. The furniture, the books, the assignments, the schedule. We would laugh and start sentences with “When I am in charge….” knowing that we would never be in charge because in charge meant you don’t get to be in the classroom anymore and who would want to do that? Being a teacher was exhausting, but worth it. We were fed by it. We were good at it.
We still are good at it, the teaching part anyway. We are good at connecting with the kids, and communicating with the parents. We are good at coming up with creative assignments, and getting kids to really think about our subject and the world, about themselves and what they think.
But those are not the things that we are being asked to do. That is no longer what being a teacher is about. Those things that we are good at, that fed us, those are now things we do if we can squeeze it in.
There are emails to respond to and tests to be built, in a certain format in a certain program that we need to use. This year lecture is out of fashion it isn’t “student centered” enough, even if the data they are currently asking for shows the students learn well when I lecture.
So I have to figure out how to deliver information that is in my head, that needs to be in my student’s head into those heads without telling them. Youtube, readings, anything but lecture, even if I have spent the last 6 years perfecting the jokes in my “intro to Shakespeare” slideshow that also has all the information the state includes on the test.
I’m not opposed to oversight. I get why people would want to make sure that teachers are doing a good job. I think education is really important. That is after all, why I became a teacher. I just wish I still liked my job. I wish it made sense, the things that are being mandated. I wish I believed in the system still. I still believe in education. I still believe in teaching. I just wish I still was doing that.