|Me. Teachers everywhere.|
|Education reformers, aka Testing/Data miners.|
But Jesus Christ, I am drowning, you all. I am treading water, desperately looking around for something to grasp onto so I can rest for a bit. I am drowning.
Early this year, a really amazing teacher I worked with for many years retired (early, when she couldn't afford to, before the school year even finished). Listen: you WANTED your kid in this woman's classroom. This woman was a natural at teaching. She got kids and knew how to reach them. And she was honest to a fault (she was the type of person who, if you passed her in the hallway and said, "Good morning, how are you?", she'd look you in the eye and respond, "Are you asking because you really want to know, or are you asking to be polite?" And mean it). She drove almost 50 miles to work and 50 miles home each day. She stayed late. She came in early. She was organized in unhuman kinds of way. And you know what else is even more chilling? She was really, really good at Math. She understood data--she was using data to drive her instruction long before it was the New Big Thing it is now. She did exactly what they now say they want: she mined data to drive her instruction. And SHE couldn't survive in this system.
I'm not like this. I am not good with managing or reading data at all...and so if they could drive someone like HER out, someone who loves data and sees its benefits, can you understand the kind of tremendous stress and angst and upset I deal with almost daily? I am not the kind of person they really want teaching children now. Though I do use that word loosely--what we're doing right now isn't necessarily "teaching" as much as it is "providing opportunities to show growth in the data."
When she retired, she said it was because (I quote), "I will never be in another job in which I am asked to do things to children I know are harmful." This is something I think people running this show should sit up and pay attention to. You have a person who utilizes data (appropriately) and is a talented, good teacher telling you: the way in which you are doing this is harming little kids.
Hey, Public Education Reformers and Data Miners: did you know, earlier this year, you lost a Jedi? Congratulations, you killed Luke Skywalker.
Personally, I feel very 3CPO as a teacher. Highly neurotic, and completely dependent on the other androids. And right now, Darth Vader is ripping apart my inner wire guts. I am drowning. I am drowning.
I'm going to come up with a plan for what to do, where to go next. The problem is: there are some things happening in my home life that are making my not having a steady income a very BAD thing. Because I also have a little girl to take care. I HAVE to have a paycheck. And I need healthcare benefits. These are non-negotiables for me; I have to earn money. Writing alone will not earn me money--JK Rowling told someone on Twitter last week that she wrote for 20 years without being paid. I may have to pull a Rowling. (Where is a good coffee shop to hang out in? Starbucks is always overcrowded.)
I just. I can't do this anymore. I love, I DEEPLY love, my students. I love those crazy kids. I love kid brains and their ridiculous stories, with all my heart. And I may be able to stomach it for another school year, but I really hate to do that. I think kids deserve someone who will show up and at least pretend to want to play Big Data's stupid reindeer data games. I don't think I can anymore. I know I wrote here earlier about you can do anything for one year, but right now, today? One year feels like infinity to me. This is not what I signed up for. I did not sign up to mine and manage data and perpetuate a lie so some CEO far removed from children and families can feel good because a spreadsheet is showing growth. I can't. And it's affecting my personal life--my marriage is in shambles, my health is crappy, I'm not sleeping, and I'm totally checked out. I can't do this job anymore. It's overwhelming me and I can't keep up with all the data anymore.
I'll be back next weekend with a happier post. Probably about Sundance and my jealousy toward all the people (every single one of you!) who got to go to it this year. Or maybe about Miss M.
Wait, don't go! Let me end on a silly little Miss M story. Here is a Miss M story: her latest imagination play is that she is a baby. You guys, I'm literally having to bathe my 4 ft. 3 in. child in the kitchen sink. Clearly, I'm a way too indulgent parent. Also, she's demanding her food be pureed. And sucking her thumb (I told her she never sucked her thumb as an actual baby--no pacifiers either--and I was told well, THIS baby M is a thumb sucker).
She's demanding we pull her old stroller down from the attic so I can push her around the neighborhood in it. And today I may have to go out and buy diapers and a bottle. Her favorite story about herself as a baby is the one time I was changing her diaper and she almost projectile pooped into my face. She says she'd like to recreate that moment.
Seriously, I'm about ready to call a psychiatrist. (Should I? Should I call a psychiatrist?) I'm cool when she wants to play Sick Princess, but this I'm A Baby Again shit is really starting to worry me. I mean, I GET it...god knows, I'd love for someone to bathe, walk, and feed me. When do I get to lay around all day sucking my thumb and watching TV? I think I'd kind of love that.
She just said something to me about not going to school on Monday, too. Babies don't go to school, so I shouldn't have to go to school tomorrow. (We may be home tomorrow, together, in diapers and sucking our thumbs, is what I'm saying. Totally feel her on this.) Fortunately, next week she'll be back to princesses. That seems to be her pattern (I don't know, since I don't keep data on my kid). This is one reason I'm glad God gave Miss M to ME. This sums up my child, pretty well:
If only Education Reformers/Data Miners would let children be a princess and Darth Vader at the same time.