For being such a realist/pessimist, I sometimes surprise myself with my optimism.
Take last January, for example.
Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a post, which I admitted at the time was written with “wide-eyed optimism.” You can read it here if you’re interested. In it I listed my badass resolutions for 2016.
Yeah. That happened.
On the fairly optimistic side, I did follow through on some of the resolutions, and I’m proud of that.
1. I will see each child as the person they are, not as a test score or a reading level. I will focus on what makes their eyes light up, what they create, what they want to show me and tell me about.
2. I will be an advocate for play. I will not withhold recess for misbehaving. Those are the kids who need recess the most.
6. I will reach out–to my BATs, to my union, to the teacher down the hall. I will be involved. I will participate in meetings and Twitter storms, conferences and rallies, caucuses and Representative Assemblies. I will work to affect change in my city, state, and nation. I will work so that future teachers do not feel the way I feel now.
And I mostly accomplished this one, although we didn’t beat last year’s number of books read.
3. I will not sacrifice reading to my class. I will read fiction and nonfiction. I will read frequently and voraciously. We will beat last year’s number.
For the next two, some days were better than others, but I tried. A lot of the challenge, like I said in January, was working around the schedule (and expectations) that I was given by my school. But I swear I tried my best.
4. I will slow down. I will give my kids age-appropriate blocks of time to work, not “I know you just got started, but now it’s time to ____.” (This one will be difficult because of the schedule I’ve been given, but I will work to make it better.)
7. I will take care of me. I’m not going to be the teacher still at school at ten o’clock at night. I’ve been that teacher before, and it’s exhausting. Some of us may laud that kind of teacher, but it’s unsustainable at best and damaging to your health at worst. I physically can’t sustain that, and more importantly, I’m not going to try.
But even as I wrote it, I realized what the consequences could be. (Sometimes I hate being intuitive.)
5. I will do all of these things to my own detriment. I will recognize that my methods of teaching are likely not going to get me the best observation scores, which down the line could affect my ability to remain employed as a teacher. I will do my best to remember I’m a good teacher and try to remember that I’m more than a score. (This will be extremely difficult. It always is.)
And then the failures. Which in many ways are not my fault, as several people keep reminding me–it is poor administration, it is the way education is today…but it still feels a lot like failure.
8. I will have a job teaching in my building next school year.
9. I will WANT to have a teaching job in my building (or any building) next school year. I will not become a statistic of teachers who leave the profession.
I did it. I became the statistic.
Being badass cost me not only my job, but my career. I tried to get so many teaching jobs this summer and fall, but to no avail. Often I wouldn’t hear back when I applied for a position. On the rare occasion I got an interview, it would go well…and then either silence or I would get the email complimenting me on my accomplishments and obvious love of teaching and children…but they went with another candidate.
Being badass got me blacklisted.
In some ways I feel like a cautionary tale. On the other hand, I don’t see how I could have done anything differently–and believe me, I’ve replayed a lot of this over and over in my head.
My teaching philosophy doesn’t gel with the way the world works anymore. So I’ve had to move on. Some days I’m better with that than others.
I don’t regret making these badass resolutions almost a year ago.
I just wish the story had ended differently.
There are a lot of us who have been bullied, a lot of us who left the teaching profession altogether because of it. Next month (I hope–for real this time), I’m going to be announcing a project I’m developing to amplify the voices of the teachers who are no longer in the classroom. Please subscribe below so you will be the first to hear about it, and if you know someone who is no longer teaching, please forward this to them. Thank you!