Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jeez, I love my job. Am I NUTS??

I am a frustrated teacher. Yeah, I know. Another one.

I’m frustrated at the impositions created by NCLB, at assessments, lack of funding, the demands and the threats. I’m frustrated about lack of parent involvement, while reading about how the community is so miserable with the state of our schools. I’m frustrated with education specialists, administrators and politicians who have never stepped in a classroom (or perhaps they lasted two years for evident reasons) yet create schedules, objectives, and tests that I must employ in the name of “good teaching.” I’m frustrated about the loss of creative and deep thinking so relished and needed in our classrooms, displaced by the emphasis of industrial learning.

And I’m frustrated that these overwhelming, sometimes seemingly insurmountable, issues are often becoming our focuses. I surely understand our need, as teachers, to vent about the horror of the “system” as it currently is, and seems to continue to be created; however, I also know how much of being a teacher is really about the kids. The kids. The kids. Of course the whole education system is, or should be, about these same kids. We wonder, don’t we?

We work desperately to negotiate the seesaw of discouragement, low moral, PINK SLIPS, no money, political oversight (and lack of vision) and the continuing strains with the joy, the creative discovery and all the glorious ah-ha moments of the classroom.

At what point do we give up, either to morph into administrative kill-joys, or to become little ostriches? Is it possible to accept the interminable demands of a classroom teacher, concurrently weave those demands into the emotionally laden dissatisfaction of our current educational environment, and be a happy teacher? I think not. Remember? We are the kings and queens of many things, chief among them the quest to keep the passion we discovered during those first few years of teaching.

I don’t have the answer. But a reflection on occasion is a good thing. We know that never will bad administrators, lack of funding, state and federal whiz kids, and imposed curriculum vanish completely. If you don’t deal with all of those, you most likely deal with one. (And if you deal with none of them, you are blessed!) I find a composite of teaching personalities at all sites- from those who have succumbed to discouragement, now the whiney, horrendous teaching examples, to those (very few) who seem to be on happy-drugs.

Hence, my blazing commentary: As teachers, we each absolutely have the power to keep the focus where it belongs. Most of us do. We squeeze an overstuffed chair in the classroom. We visit with the kids at their desks and don’t line our rooms up in rows. We have student work on the walls instead of educational posters about motivation and attitude. Our desks are most likely a mess, the time to organize given to our kids. Our classrooms are a warm and welcome home to those many students who lack one. We end our school days with stories of delight, hope and discovery as well as hurt, loss and sadness.

As teachers, our lives are brim full with humanity, an infinite variety of it. We vicariously experience the lives of our kids. In that, we mold attitudes and hope; we create and build character, both ours and theirs. We have the power to change and save lives in the naïve drive to teach a lesson. How silly of us.

In the midst of the angst in all that seems dysfunctional in education, let us pinch ourselves once in a while, really hard, and remember how blessed we are to have discovered the most incredible “job” man can create. That job of only being a measly, blamed, ignored, underpaid, and unappreciated teacher. With gratitude, I am one.

Pinch me now.

Thank you to Brian Germain for illustrations.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Right On, Lucy!

Charles Schultz was so profound in so many ways.
(You'll have to click on this to read it... sorry. No time to fix right now.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dear Abbinestra. It's me, Leda.

Leda and the Swan
by Cy Twombly

2036 BC

Dear Abbinestra.

I’m in quite a labyrinth.

I really don’t want to tell my husband, Tyndareus- you know, those Spartans are mean dudes!!- about what happened to me about a year ago. (I can’t help but think that this’ll be fodder for painters and poets for years.) But right this minute I am in a real pickle!

I was hanging out in the library last night, reading a great book about some odyssey, when all of a sudden Zeus pops down from the cosmos in a rush to escape from some attacking eagle! I didn’t know it was Zeus at first because he looked like a swan, and one fine swan he was! But once I found out, I was surely not going to let him down.

To make an epic of this, I must say again, he was a hunk of a swan, and we sorta began to play around, and then he went crazy and chaos ensued and then he wouldn’t stop, and... I was mortified! And all on the same night my husband and I had been creation-making also!!

So here’s my problem. I delivered the triplets, Castor and Pollux, the boys, and Helen, a Trojan looking, gorgeous girl! Of course the handmaids took them from me directly, and then I come to find out that they’d HATCHED! Oh my Zeus! A plague be on me! Now I have three half-immortal kids, or one immortal and two divine, or whatever, and I’m having going to have a tough time raising them!

The heavens are rumbling miserably. I don’t know what to tell my husband!

Please, please send help with the speed of Mercury!

Love, Leda

Leda and the Swan by Michelangelo
(This was a dang cool "assignment" that integrated English and Art!)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Take a break and play with me!

A bug, a germ. A bug, a germ.