|Courtesy: Skinned Knees|
Why is there so much stress these days in teaching at poor, urban schools? Why? They keep telling us they want to lessen our workload, and help us work smarter not harder. But then they make us go to exactly 3 more meetings a week, taking away precious planning time or gold after school prep time. I mean listen: I want to help my people meet their goals, I want to help my bosses' vision become reality. But I cannot do this if I'm burned out. And I'm burning out. I'm on a slow roll to black right now.
And that is all I will say about it. Because I still need a paycheck.
Wait, no. A few more things: last time, I wrote about being a free spirit. (Which, by the way, got like 1,600 hits. WTF, Blogger? I'm sorry, that's simply not correct. There are not that many people out there in the world, on a Windows platform, that interested in my free bird tendencies. Weird.) (As I was writing this, a friend called and told me I was most likely under attack - someone or something was trying to lock my computer or lock up Blogger or something. I hate people and things that attack other people and things. Get. Over. Yourselves.)
Anyway. So at the beginning of the year, they made us do this pop psychology What's Your Color? thing. Which was one thing, because I'm all about those cute little Buzzfeed quizzes that, like, tell you what type of cookie you are (ginger cookie) or which 90s pop idol you are (Spice Girls) (naturally). But then we had to break out into groups and share about our colors. And this is where my annoyance with other humans always starts.
First off, I am an introvert. And the one thing you can do to introverts that will really annoy and stress them out is to make them participate in cutesy, everybody-group-hug-and-share-your-thoughts! kinds of activities. It's the worst part of my work environment. Every time I go to some training, I know there's going to be a moment or ten where the instructor goes: "Okay, guys. Partner up and deconstruct this paragraph. In 10 minutes, we'll meet back and share out what you and your partner think about it." And I just want to hurl. Because (a) I don't WANT to share out what's in my brain. I don't WANT to tell you where my brain is at on the information you just presented to me. My brain needs to sit quietly with the information on a sheet of paper or notes I've taken in front of me and think about them. Quietly. BY MYSELF. I don't CARE what a partner thinks. Leave. Me. Alone. and (b) I don't have proof, but I'm pretty certain these types of activities are the results of some bullshit research done in the early 2000s that claim making everyone talk over how their brains are working is going to make them smarter. When in reality, it just means less work for the instructor. I bet I can find some research findings from the late 1990s that say instructors who don't actually, you know, instruct are pretty lazy and need to find a different career path.
Also they make us do this to kids. By the way. And if they don't see us doing it when they come to observe us, if they can't check it off on their check list ("Uses innovative student engagement strategies" or whatever), we get rated downward. I just want to scream at them: BUT I DON'T LEARN WELL THIS WAY!! YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY THINK ALL THESE LITTLE PEOPLE FROM ALL THESE DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS ENJOY THIS!!!! Stop trying to turn everybody into extroverts, Extroverts. Just because you are doesn't mean we all want to be. Some kids are shy and quiet and don't want to share with a partner or do a whole bunch of small group work activities every single moment of their day. And they shouldn't have to.
Second. So I turned out to be a combination of Blue (touchy/feely/compassionate) and Red (free spirit/don't tell me what to do, dammit/loves adventure)...which I believe officially makes me confused and utterly conflicted. Meaning: I want to cocoon and be safe...NO! LET'S GO ZIPLINING!!!!! no, no...let's eat popcorn and snuggle under a blanket together and cry over Schindler's List again...OOOOH WAIT NO!! LET'S DRINK BEER AND DANCE IN THE RAIN WHILE TRIBAL DRUMS BEAT IN THE BACKGROUND!!!!
That kind of thing. I am a Pisces, of course. Which is a symbol of two fish connected at the tails, trying to swim in opposite directions. So I suppose this sort of makes sense. Also, if you take blue and mix it with red, you get purple. And purple is the color of magic and wisdom. I just need to point THAT out to you, too.
At any rate.
Third. I think this is why, for people like me, dangling things in front of us like: oooh, here's how you can get an Exemplary rating on your annual evaluation...don't you want to be Exemplary? Or oooh, if you have zero absences at work this year, you can wear jeans every Monday and Wednesday! Or oooh, if you get two Exemplary ratings in a row AND your class raises its collective reading levels by 1200 points, we'll give you $1000 more a year! Simply don't work on Red/Blue people like me.
Because who cares about Exemplary? I'm at the point I don't even care about Needs Improvement. Last year, I got a Needs Improvement on one of my brief evals, and I was sobbing in my principal's office about it.
This year, I'm all: meh. Everybody needs to improve. This feels like me getting a C on a really hard Advanced Algebra II test. Nothing short of a small miracle, and so fair enough.
And 0 absences at work for some jeans passes or a Starbucks gift card or whatever? Psh. I'll take 200 mental health days instead, thanks. Those are worth way more than any gift card or cheap gold sticker bait. I mean for real. Please don't insult my intelligence; I have a master's degree.
And $1000 more per year, for some extra data that ultimately may or may not save the planet but probably won't save it, since a small group of 1% of people are currently running it all into the ground and destroying the very fabric of an upwardly mobile society and therefore bringing about a total mutiny of French Revolution proportions? And probably are the SAME people behind all the research that says we all need to share out what's in our brains (so they can mind control us). Yeah, no. You're not going to convince me to sell my soul out to THAT, Satan's minions. Nice try. Up your ante. And stop insulting my intelligence; I taught myself how to semi-properly use semi-colons.
I think this is why I'm tired, really. I'm an introvert having to work in an environment that values extroversion. This is why I go home drained every day. I thoroughly enjoy hanging out and talking to my students. They really make my heart happy, with their cute little life observations and their tremendously naive and sweet viewpoints on how the world works. But then I have to sit in two meetings where I'm supposed to share out how my brain is thinking and my group's extroverts all decide the best way to get some jeans passes and an Exemplary on our meeting performance will be to perform a synchronized swimming routine with sporadically inserted bits of choreography from Flashdance, set to Van Halen's Hot For Teacher.
I just want to sit and read the material, process it, and then take a nap while listening to soft Vivaldi in the background. (Or, you know, listen to Van Halen's Hot for Teacher, but only in MY brain. And not talk to anybody about it because no, Mr./Ms. Extrovert, I actually do NOT care how your brain is thinking. Go think out loud over there, in that far off corner, where I can't hear you because I'm not kidding: I DON'T CARE.)