slice of life tuesday: it's about the kids
30 days ago, I was excited to bring a cornucopia of new ideas into this school year. Plans for a new word study program, ideas from writing workshops I attended over the summer, and a commitment to a daily math workshop all acted as catalysts to launch me happily into a new year of experiments to enjoy.
2 weeks ago, I walked through the hall towards my room, smiling to myself at how fortunate I was to spend my days doing something I love. I couldn't imagine doing anything else. The ideas I brought into the classroom were shifting and changing into activities that would work for my students. Although there were bumps along the way, I felt confident.
7 days ago I left a meeting feeling like all my hard work meant nothing, that it was impossible to meet the needs of my students, balance the desires of my principal, and implement the type of instruction I believe in -- all at the same time.
This morning I welcomed my intern and quickly found a way to involve her in the class, focused on my students, laughed at my mistakes, and generally enjoyed the day with my students. I almost recaptured the beginning of year joy, almost let go of the mounting stress.
This afternoon I sat down to a faculty meeting where I listened to a woman encourage us to stay positive and bit my lip through a discussion about testing -- although my mind rattled and the words bubbled up in my throat so fiercely that I thought I would either burst into tears or burst into hysterics if I didn't speak up.
Tonight I'm thinking about the devotion so many teachers have to their students. Not devotion to a test, or an objective, or even a single subject or style of teaching. It's not devotion to a campus, although we do certainly tend to become territorial! We get up early each morning, often shuttling our own children out the door, already thinking about our students. We spend the day at our wit's ends, racking our brains for that one right way to reach each student. After hours each day trying to find the solution of how to fit the monstrous amount of necessary teaching into a schedule that laughs at anything more than the bare minimum, we say goodbye to our students, go back to our rooms, and begin grading, planning, assembling, and plotting all over again.
I'm thinking about how I fill my huge bag each night and drag everything I can fit into it home so I can continue working. I'm thinking about sitting behind my laptop or a book or papers into the late hours of the night, grading and planning and assembling and plotting ways to make sense of the days that are completely beyond all sense.
I'm thinking that it doesn't matter if you call it a TAKS or a STAAR or any other name. It doesn't matter if we teach TEKS or Common Core. It’s not about the data or the numbers or the graphs and the statistics.
It’s about the kids. It’s about the pure, real learning that happens when children and teachers meet each other every day ready to work together. It’s about keeping it real in a school system determined to forget that teaching is not about the numbers – it’s about the kids.