Tag Archives: PLC

a smoldering wick

I am weary. beaten down. mocked. ridiculed. disparaged. but you can just call me ‘teacher’.  Other than the endearments of ‘wife’, ‘mother’, ‘sister’, ‘friend’,  I’d most like to be remembered as teacher.  it is my calling. My vocation. What i was meant to be. What I was meant to do.

And i love doing it. From the very first day over twenty years ago, when I lost my composure the minute the last student left, to the PLC that had me in tears a few weeks ago, and even today with a challenging student in my last class, I have known that this is it for me. I do it because it changes not only the students with whom I interact, I do it because it changes me. I am a better person for it.

I graduated from the University of Delaware’s education program well prepared.  As confidently as I began, I knew there was much to learn,  and eventually, maybe years later, realized that what I had yet to learn was infiintely greater than all I had mastered. For me, it has been a lifetime of simultaneous teaching and learning.

I am weary of the vitriol poured over the heads of educators in all varieties of arenas, as if we are the enemy. As if we are not to be trusted to relate to the public the true conditions exisiting in many public schools today. As if we are about the task of pursuing any means of escaping our responsibililties. As if we are purposely promoting falsehoods for our own gain.

Teachers have 40 and more students in their classes in my district. Students with IEP’s and behavior plans are included in these numbers. What human being can realisitically meet those kinds of needs on a daily basis without paying an emotional and physical price? How are the needs of these students being addressed? How are they being ignored? Does anyone care to know the truth? Don’t ask a teacher. Teachers can’t be trusted, they just want a paycheck and their summers off.

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I Think I Get It

As I have taken a more active role in my association, I have tried to stir others into action as well. I have pondered the reluctance of so many educators to take a more active role in education on both local and national levels. I have listened to the reasons for not attending board meetings, association meetings, for not participating in association activities, and not serving on committees such as Liaison, that are purported to offer an opportunity to have one’s voice heard in the shaping of the environments in which they labor.

I think I get it.

The top down policies and programs that have been instituted in the name of education reform continue to place a burden on teachers that has not positively impacted practice, or learning. While writing, I considered “policies and practices that have not impacted practice”, but that may not be entirely accurate. The data collection and recording, Whole Child meetings and developing of Common Core lesson plans have intruded on the long term team work and collegiality that has nurtured me for years. Once, teachers were trusted to care enough about instruction to do what was necessary to improve upon it, to share information and concerns about instruction, difficult concepts, and students’ needs. We are no longer trusted to be aware of our needs, nor how to spend our time. This era of forced PLC’s has more isolated teachers than ever. What once were collaborative Team Meetings of equals has morphed into department meetings, Common Core Meetings, Whole Child meetings, etc., all conducted by one supposedly superior who has knowledge to dispense- to the inferiors. If we share, we are told what to share and how to share it. If we are to problem solve, we are provided an outline, or method by which it is to be solved. No thinking required.

You might be wondering what this has to do with the problem of teacher passivity. It provides a background, one which must be understood to grasp the significance of the rest of the picture. The rest of the picture is an extension of the disempowered teacher. Teachers have learned to lock their doors, not to keep out administrators, but disruptions. We must be content to police our own classrooms, as if that isn’t challenge enough. We must filter out all that takes place outside our domain, the classroom, and reserve for that all the energy and attention we can muster. I never knew a teacher who looked for trouble, but I have known many who have looked the other way.

I think I get it.

Teachers are very keenly aware of that which they control, and that over which they exert no control at all. They have to pick and choose. Their energy is not limitless, and too broad a concern, or commitment will burn them out faster than a week of Halloweens. Teachers believe, for the most part, that they can be effective only inside that classroom, that they have nothing to offer of interest anyone outside its walls. Burn out is real, and it is always just around the corner.

I think I get it.