Thursday, June 2, 2011

My "kids" are the best in the world!

Today I was having a minor crisis.  This happens every time I have to look for a job, which, unfortunately, is more often than I would like. (Note: if you think you can change the world for the better, you may not be well-liked in some education circles, especially if you are effective in what you do. At least that has been my experience.)  In looking for a job I thought, why don't I just go back to teaching high school? I loved it and it was easier and had better hours than my current job, and sadly, it would actually pay a lot more. (Note #2: When the meager pay of a high school teacher is an improvement over your current salary, you are in the wrong job.)

Confession: I have two Facebook profiles.  One is locked and secure and is for my family and very close friends.  The second is for my former students.  Once all of those former students turn 21, then I'll probably combine the two, but until then, things are separate.  This has to do with my paranoia.  I have a deep-set fear that some 19 year-old would happen to see that Honey makes wine and then somehow it would spiral into a statewide newspaper story about how a teacher's low morals is corrupting the youth.  No thank you!

This afternoon, I posed a modified version of my dilemma on my "student FB": I'm thinking of returning to the classroom while I figure out what it is I want to do with life.  The responses made me laugh and cry and made me incredibly proud of my wonderful, intelligent kids.  I decided to keep these responses here on my blog so that I always remember.  If I'm tempted to think about this in the future, I'll have the voices of my kids running through my head.  (Ignore any grammar issues, as I have learned to do -- I am convinced that if I had four years with any of these kids they would now have proper grammar, but as it is I was only in various schools for a few years at a time.)
KC: You were one of my most memorable teachers even though I only had you in my freshman year. Good luck with the search and I hope you find something you love, you are an amazing educator! Thank you for keeping in touch with me over the years :)

JH (Not a former kid -- the mother of one of my kids!): Just your presence in the classroom makes the school a better place! People of every age KNOW when someone cares for them (or not), and you DO. :)

FN (who asked if I gave up on becoming the Superintendent of Public Instruction for my state, and when I replied that it's no longer an elected position and I didn't have the connections to get appointed for the next term (four years from now) said): So what you're saying is you gave up before even trying??? Lol yes connections would be a huge advantage to getting closer to the job, but who says that's the only route to take?? If it _IS_ your dream then why quit? I mean what would have been the point of becoming Dr. B-- if you're just gonna go back to teaching social studies to high school students when you did that before you even had that title? Lol don't get me wrong, you were a really great teacher, but I feel you can do even more for us all as the Superintendent of Public Instruction for --- :) dreams don't die Ms. B--, maybe altered, but still with the same concept... [a few comments later] Honestly, I felt some of the staff at our school were a little careless about us lol most were great but even then, when it came down to helping us succeed, only a small amount actually tried..
Its not so much that I'm trying get you to feel guilty :) I'm just trying to help you see that the things you have done in the past as just a teacher were great and influenced us to become better young adults, but now that you have a new title you should aim higher and help a larger amount of students and even teachers to reach their full potential by improving schools across ---.. and say that the Superintendent of Public Instruction is not the place that you were looking for, then search for the next best thing and along the way you're leaving us with a great example of someone pursuing their dreams when not many people can truly do that... remember how you use to push us to reach our full potential? Do you think becoming just a teacher is your own or in a way your limit of potential? Cuz I feel you can do sssoooooooo much more :)

SK: [FN] you make lots of good points. I agree and Ms.-- I truly believe in you and know that you can do whatever you put your mind to I believe you will somehow drastically change the face of education. You were the only teach who ever pushed me so hard and you know I always succeeded and I have you to thank for pushing me and helping me understand I was capable of things I didn't know I could do. Somehow you knew my potential and even though you may not know it or see it I believe in you, I want my future children to know your name and somehow have a better education because of you. GO MS. ----!!!

 My response: My children, you are all amazing and so encouraging! Really, you are incredible and I am so proud of each and every one of you! I was reading your comments to -----, who said "I agree with your kids." He's been trying to get me to see these points for a long time, to push for something truly worthwhile and help a lot of people. I felt that I was able to do that to some extent this past school year -- I worked with teachers to help them learn how to improve their own teaching and I worked with a student teacher to get him to see how much more he could do to help students. Honestly, it's a lot easier in a high school classroom because as a high school teacher I could see improvement in all my students as the weeks passed. Working with teachers or soon-to-be-teachers means that I have to work in a much larger system, and the larger a system is the more problems it generally has, which is rather frustrating. But I guess more problems means more areas for improvement and I do love improving systems.

There are a few things that I've thought about doing:
1) Open a school (I'm actually working with a friend on this idea right now, so we'll see if something opens by 2012).
2) Teach pre-service teachers in a college (so they actually understand what it's really like and push themselves and then in turn push their students to succeed so that we have fewer of the teachers who just let kids slide, as F---- noticed happened when he was in school)
3) Doing some sort of professional development work with teachers to help them improve their practice (which is what I've been doing this year but my current job goes away in July)
4) Create some sort of business that goes into schools and looks at their systems and helps them figure out how to fix them (of course like I pointed out earlier, this requires adults who acknowledge the need for change)
5) Become the Superintendent of Public Instruction for ----, or, similarly, do something that would allow me to work on a national level (Secretary Arne Duncan, I have some ideas for you!).

You are right, my wonderful children, I would never accept anything less than your absolute best, so I will keep pushing forward myself and see where that leads. You are all amazing and I expect to hear that you are incredibly successful in life. Thanks for your encouragement!! :-)

SK (again): You know as I wrote the last comment I thought to myself how odd it felt to be giving you of all people encouragement but I guess we all need it sometimes! And I will be the best dental assistant I can be and you can be the best at what ever calls you to action in education. Ps I really hope you can come to my wedding next week it would really mean a lot to me. 

FN (again): nice! great plan, now lets see some results in the future =] 
I do tend to hear nice things from former students and I keep in touch with quite a few of them.  Perhaps that's one of the reasons why I considered returning to the classroom -- I do love it and I can see results almost immediately.  But my kids are right: I need to push myself and be the best I can be.  Where or what that is, I don't know exactly.  But I will learn.  And then I will share with my kids. 

1 comment:

  1. Those are amazing comments from your students - and they're right, obviously. (Incidentally, even though you only had a year or two with them, they still seem to have a better understanding of grammar than most of the undergrads I've taught in the last two years... which is another way of saying that the world needs more people like you. You'd do amazing work if you went back to classroom teaching, but I keep thinking about something one of my favorite teachers used to say - that teaching was "like shooting arrows into the future." Teaching teachers takes that to a whole new level...)


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