I am home from school today, trying desperately to beat back my annual cold/laryngitis. Not an unusual teacher malady; after all, we do talk for a living! We also prompt, encourage, nudge, praise, clarify, remind, control, consult, collaborate, plan, and confer. Our voices feel the strain.
But you know what? It isn’t the vocal strain that is making teaching impossible.
It is the emotional strain. It is the never ending insanity around testing, retesting, scoring, rubrics and so called “accountability”. It is the ongoing realization that what we are being forced to do to our students in unethical, immoral and damaging. It is the knowledge, every waking moment, that we are being forced (even in a progressive, supportive, well funded district like the one in which I teach) to violate our own beliefs in order to check off all the boxes.
I want to share a link to a very good blog written by a young colleague. A smart, activist young woman who isn’t afraid to teach with her heart.
Please read it. Please share it. If you are a parent, please consider keeping your child out of the standardized tests in your district.
Also, please consider spending some time on these sites:
4 thoughts on “An angry teacher”
To be very honest, this is one of the biggest reasons that we decided to home school. The very structure (testing as a means of accountability) feels so fundamentally flawed, we couldn’t see a way out. Even in transitional kindergarten, when I questioned the teacher about the heavy emphasis on compliance, part of her answer was that the kids needed to start learning how to “learn proper test taking behavior”. She thought she was being realistic, but I was appalled. A class of (almost but not even) five year olds! It makes me so angry that there are good teachers like you guys, fighting to do what is right in a bad system. This way, everyone loses except the companies.
What I find so incredibly frustrating, though, is that literally every single teacher I know feels the same way I do (I am willing to bet that kindergarten teacher agrees with us, too). We have become afraid to speak up, though, for so many reasons.
1) We want parents to feel comfortable with us and with our schools. We aren’t trying to upset anyone!
2) We are “team players” at heart; we don’t want to publicly criticize our administrators (most of whom also agree on this topic….)
3) Every time teachers have spoken up about so called “Ed Reform”, politicians and the media label us as whiners, complainers and lazy self-centered parasites.
Please protest, please make noise, please help your schools to improve! Not everyone has the option to home-school, we need to protect our kids from this insanity.
I really struggle with this, because I see what you are saying, I really do. Yet, despite that the teacher we had might have agreed with you, the fact of the matter was, she made us feel like the problem. She fed Mouse food that she was allergic to not once, but THREE times, then told us that it wasn’t her fault (too much to keep track of, was her reason). When we questioned the standards being enforced, she very clearly made me feel like I “didn’t get it”. When we went to the principal to discuss, she asked that we were there to complain about her (we weren’t), and froze us out of any further dialogue. At each turn, I was made to feel like if I didn’t toe *her* line, I was the problem because it made it harder for her to toe *their* line. (And by they, I mean the administration.) So while I agree that teachers are wrongly silenced, I don’t think they’re all like you or the teacher who wrote the post you linked.
I do understand that from your perspective, you might feel like if I stayed in our school system, I could have been a force for change. Yet, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to change a system that I was as intrinsically problematic. And all that time, I could see how our particular situation was doing my daughter affirmative harm.
I also wonder… Maybe since we pulled out to home school, I shouldn’t engage in school issues at all, because who am I to have an opinion on a system that is rather see dismantled than reformed. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts, because I do wrestle with this. I want to support the public school system because I understand that many don’t have a choice to opt out even if they want, but at the same time, I do feel like I might have given up my place in that discussion.
Yikes, that teacher sounds like a perfect fit for the rigid, unthinking, just-so-what-you’re told world of modern education.
And I didn’t mean at all to imply that you should have left your kids in public school; absolutely NOT! I teach in public school, and I will tell you right now that if it doesn’t change a whole hell of a lot between now and when my future grandkids are school aged, I will homeschool them myself. I wouldn’t put my kids in most public schools now, either.
I just hope that parents will begin to loudly voice their concerns. I think that we need to hear from ALL parents (those who use the system they pay for and those who realize that they can’t use the system that they pay for). Given the fact that you have had to opt out of public education, I think you have even more of a voice!