Friday, September 16, 2005

'I just want to teach.'

Sometimes, I wake up in the morning, and I cry. There are times when I want to just quit, to walk out the door and say, ‘So long, and thanks for all the fish.’ These are the days, the times, when I think that teaching was the wrong profession for me.
Sometimes, I wake up in the morning, and I smile. There are times when I cannot wait to walk into my classroom and say, ‘Hi folks. It’s great to see you, let’s get started.’ These are the days, the times, when I think that teaching was the best profession for me.
Lately, I cry more than I smile. I am so tired of a lot of everything. I have been repeating a new mantra, a bitter mantra: ‘I just want to teach history!’ I hate this mantra, because it makes me feel like I am not a team player, that I am somehow failing to do what must be done to help my students.
My school is all about ‘the team’ and all about ‘the students.’ I understand, and on the surface, I agree with it all completely. And yet, I cannot help but feel that being all about ‘the team’ and all about ‘the students’ leaves out the individual teacher. I want to teach my students the joy of history, the passion that I feel for a subject near and dear to my heart, and sometimes I succeed, I think. But now, now I must place a heavier emphasis on specific methods of delivery, and I must take almost full responsibility for the success or failure of my students. And this bothers me. It shouldn’t, I know. Teachers SHOULD bear some responsibility for the success or failure of their students…but not at the expense of removing all of the responsibility from the shoulders of the students. That is where education and education ‘reform’ seems to be going.
There is no box on the IEP or the 504 or the AIP for helping a student overcome laziness or attitude or anger or socio-economic status. There is no box that will allow the student to get a new set of parents that will make him care about learning, or a new set of goals that will make her want to go beyond getting a boy or a baby. There is nothing I can do about a lack of will in the student. But I am responsible 100% for the success of that student.
I am tired. I am angry. I recently spent 45 minutes in a training session on the proper use of word walls. Word walls. In high school. I know how to use word walls. I simply choose not to use them because I have not found them effective, research be damned. The students at this level find them amusing, if anything. They mock them, and they mock the whole idea of using elementary level strategies on high school level students.
Paperwork. Paperwork. It all about paperwork. Document everything, build a file, write a letter, beg, plead, hope, pray, for the student to care about learning.
I am not sure I can care much longer. I’m not sure my students, many of them, want me to care.
I love history. I love teaching. I wish I could teach history.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)
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