Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Screw the School, Love the Family, Heal the Self

Yesterday's post made a splash. I get about fifty hits per post, but have had over 750 on yesterday's rant. My wife says that there are plenty of others who are feeling what I feel. Seems like it would be difficult to be a teacher and not feel at least a little insulted these days. So a post about those feelings gets to be pretty popular.

Today's post ought to be an explosive sequel, but I don't have it in me. I'm tired and it's messing with my home-life. That can't continue.

It's not that the kids and my wife can't be allowed to see me struggling. I just can't bring home the frustrations of the job and let them get in the way of being in love with my family. Nothing could ever be important enough for that.

At school, I am an ineffective teacher on a teacher improvement plan and required to submit lesson plans like a first-year rube. I'm denied planning time so I can "teach" math classes in a zoo of a school across town from where I teach English in the morning. I get no lunch break or time to meet with colleagues. I have no chance to improve as a teacher despite the mandate that I improve. Well, it's not me that needs to improve so much as the test scores. No one gives a flying fuck about the teacher, just his kids' scores.

But when school ends, I need to walk out, take three breaths, start the car and leave school behind. No checking my school email. No schoolwork on family time. I'm building an Arizona Tea-Party nut-job wall between school and home.

Otherwise, I'll grind my teeth down and cry at the kitchen table instead of watching one girl shoot baskets, listening to the other girl sing, and taking my wife by the hand for a long walk. I'd be crazy to focus on school and miss all of that. Crazy.

Sure, sometimes school will cling to me like a sticky cobweb. I can't let it all go like some Zen master much as I want to. But I can learn to let go. That's part of moving forward, moving on.

I've had people encourage me to hang in, wait it out, focus on the kids, and shut the door on the nonsense. I've done that for three years but my grip is failing, I can't wait it out, and kids are no longer the focus of school. Test scores are.

Do I sound defeatist? It's because I'm defeated. No mas. I surrender, but I won't go quietly. I believe in real teaching and learning. I know that the Common Core, standardized testing, and APPR rankings of teachers are all bullshit of the first order. You bet your ass I'll keep saying so.

What's an ineffective teacher to do but write on?