Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Then: All the responsibility and none of the authority. Now: Trusted with Both.

Is anyone else out there lucky enough to have a job that makes you so happy that all you have to do is walk into the building and you feel the positive vibes? My days seem so short now; most days I feel as though I've just begun, and bingo, it's time to go to bed again.

I get tired, yes. I am exhausted, usually, by the end of the day. But even so, I love this teaching gig with a passion I didn't even know I was still capable of after enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous public school dealings for so long.

I think that after so long in the school systems of our country, the teachers who stay evolve a mindset that is almost enslavement. We endure schedules and treatment that no other professional would dream of enduring. We allow ourselves to be used and misused and overworked, all in the name of love for our students. What other professionals have a clientele that pretty much expects to be supported, fed, dressed, taught, and catered to in every possible way, without showing the least bit of gratitude?

We get so used to it, we don't even realize that there is another world out there, where people show each other respect.

We really do love the students, don't get me wrong. But year after year in a public school kind of makes a teacher numb to any other possibility that might be out there for a person with these talents. Every year it gets worse and worse, even while we are thinking and saying things like "Next year it will be better."

But it never is.

Next year, the classrooms are more overcrowded, there are less books, there are more dysfunctional families who seem to be in charge of the system, there are more duties, there are more responsibilities, there are more problems, there are more "incidents," and there is less and less support. There is no respite. There is no discipline. The teacher's union here stands idly by and allows a principal to schedule a teacher to the point that there isn't even time in the course of the day to blow her nose. I am not exaggerating, either. The contract guarantees some prep time daily? We'll count walking down the hall to fetch yet another class as break-time. We'll count your driving time, from building to building, as your lunch. Ask any music teacher if I'm stretching the truth.

Yes, every year it's worse. And a teacher doesn't really know how bad it is, until that teacher walks out and tries something new.

Me, for instance.

And now, I teach every day in a building full of wonderful hardworking students and smiling administrators and friendly janitors and awesome bosses who TALK TO US AS THOUGH WE WERE EQUALS (instead of slaves) and the building resounds with humor and happiness and dedication.

Heck, even the restrooms here are superior. And there is ALWAYS toilet paper!!!!! The halls and classrooms are clean and well-maintained. Everyone behaves properly.

The sad and odd thing is, I did not know how bad it actually was until I left the public schools. While I was there, I was the most loyal and hardworking and dedicated person in the building. Sure, the days seems awfully long, and sometimes the despair and frustration were so thick one could cut it with a knife, but it was my obsession, to somehow be a positive force in this not-very-positive place. I came to school at 7:00; I got home around 6:00. I was determined to make a difference, a positive difference.

But, but, there was no appreciation. There was only the expectation that if I could do that, I should be doing even more.

I couldn't keep on.

But now? I feel positive every day. I love coming to school. All I have to do is walk into this building and I am instantly wide-awake and happy.

Sure, there are some, um, "interesting" students here, but MOST of them are pure quality.

I still work the long hours. But I am appreciated, and treated like the professional I'd forgotten I was, all those years.

And now, I truly believe I am helping to make a positive difference. I can see it. I can hear it.

Scheisse, I love my job.

The really ironic thing is that in spite of all the negative things about the public schools, I still believe that this nation's schools are the hope of our future. There is such potential in every classroom, such stories to be told, such wondrous talent and creativity and sensitivity and music concealed behind the t-shirts and the grubby jeans and exposed underwear and defiant raising of the eyebrows and the punky hair and the chips-on-the-shoulders and the trendy slang and the stubborn glares. . . . there is poetry behind the obscenities, and magnificent scientific discoveries behind the unwillingness to conform.

It's too bad teachers are no longer allowed to cultivate it.

Why can't we be allowed to step back and bask in the glow of unbridled enthusiasm, and throw ourselves into helping students learn and discover and grow, grow, grow, both physically and mentally and socially and culturally and scientifically. . . . .

What happened to us as a people, as a culture, as a nation, that our idea of 'school' has sunk to the level of equating success with a number on a piece of paper?

I do tend to rant, don't I. My apologies.

I miss what my former job might have been, in a perfect world.

But oh golly, I do love my job now!!!!
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:23 PM | |


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