Friday, October 12, 2012

Personal Struggles

Since the middle of August I've been feeling more and more like my philosophical beliefs about educating children are fitting in less and less with my building's beliefs and the beliefs of education in general. A few of the things I've been struggling with include:

  • spending 3 hours data mining and determining students' specific reading skill needs, only to be told exactly what skills I will teach and exactly when I will teach those skills during the school year
  • spending a year learning how to make a research based, developmentally appropriate word study program work for my students, only to be told that we need to "get them through" a certain number of sorts each marking period so they can be considered proficient. Oh - we were also told that if we want the kids to meet those goals we might have to cut out or skip parts of the program. 
  • focusing on having a growth mindset, but then forcing students with disabilities to take grade level common assessments rather than allowing them the opportunity to take assessments on their level to demonstrate learning and growth because we're required to show grade level growth
  • trying to reconcile my personal beliefs and understanding of "standards based reporting" with the district's definition / model of a standards based report card
  • dealing with teachers who call kids "clueless" and believe that they are not as capable as other students
  • working with people who make it their business to undermine every attempt that is made to do what's right for kids
  • trying to develop a professional working dialogue with individuals who are not interesting in considering or putting any ideas into practice if they aren't their own
  • understanding how we refuse outside support services for students who desperately need them 
I have wanted to be a teacher since I was seven years old. I set my stuffed animals in a row of one room schoolhouse desks my great-uncle got for me, and I taught them using my little fold up chalkboard. Teaching is all I have ever wanted to do. 

But as my personal beliefs about meeting the needs of the whole child, about seeing a child not just as a test-taker but as a social, emotional human being, have grown, I find myself growing farther and farther away from what we are doing in my building and in public education here in the US. It becomes harder and harder for me to just say it is what it is and do these things to kids, and it has made me very unhappy. And my heart is feeling like it is impossible for me to make any meaningful changes where I am right now.

I'm not sure where I would go or what I would do, but I'm just not sure public education is the place for me any more.

5 comments:

Lani said...

Becky,
I truly feel your pain-- and know that you will make the best decision for you.

And I hope it's OK to suggest--
Your kids, your students now-- you are likely the best thing that ever happened to them.

Can it be that they are worth the pain and the heartache you feel?

It's probably unfair for me to ask that-- yet for them to lose you would be a tragedy ---

Just saying--
Lani

Becky Bair said...

As always, Lani, your kind words certainly are appreciated. You're right - I could never leave my kiddos now because school is their safe place, and they are my number one responsibility.

But to continue struggling with this year after year... it's a daunting thought.

misscashen said...

Hi Becky,

I know exactly how you feel. A few months ago I was in the same place and I actually took the move.

I found I was hitting my head against a brick wall in school reform and that it didn't matter what I did nothing seem to change.

So I decided I needed some new skills, especially in being able to make change. So I applied for a job as an educational designer at Monash University here in Australia.

It has been a great move. I am building up skills, opening up the idea that I am an educator, not a teacher. And that I actually have skills to cross over sectors.

And I am working on a great project where I am learning so much. Mainly about how projects run and universities too.

And I am not so tired! I couldn't believe how much is expected of teachers.

Mel

misscashen said...

Hi Becky,

I know exactly how you feel. A few months ago I was in the same place and I actually took the move.

I found I was hitting my head against a brick wall in school reform and that it didn't matter what I did nothing seem to change.

So I decided I needed some new skills, especially in being able to make change. So I applied for a job as an educational designer at Monash University here in Australia.

It has been a great move. I am building up skills, opening up the idea that I am an educator, not a teacher. And that I actually have skills to cross over sectors.

And I am working on a great project where I am learning so much. Mainly about how projects run and universities too.

And I am not so tired! I couldn't believe how much is expected of teachers.

Mel

Becky Bair said...

Wow Mel! Good for you for taking a chance and making that huge change. It sounds like your new job has been a pretty cool learning opportunity for you.

I never thought about looking towards the college / university system, but it is definitely something to think about. Thanks for sharing what you've done and for helping me remember that I'm not the only one feeling this way.