I have been dealing with the edureform nonsense too long, and not too well. I have pissed off more than one principal and a couple staff development presenters. I don't do well with nonsense, time-wasters, condescension and baseless blame. I teach little kids, and I do it really well. Ask them.
I have numerous letters of thanks from parents of former students, the support of my fellow teachers, and a few administrators. But, my principal has it out (in?) for me. Never mind my students' scores (I make my colleagues look marginal, or something) on the all-important state test, or the joy on their little faces when they get to school because they love being in my class, or the fact that so many teachers send their "behavior problems" to my class for a time out, or the creative productions my class always puts on, or the creative way my kids learned about some science--which included stuff that explodes. Never mind that I used music, humor, technology and my own materials to make learning exciting, fun and desirable. Never mind that I supervised lunch and recess when it wasn't my turn, because leadership doesn't know how to staff such things. Never mind that I was technology leader, disaster leader, or was asked to be math leader (I turned it down, and thus began my downfall).
Never mind all that.
Never mind it all because that is not what is important. What is important is that I never question bogus data in public, or point out that a certain curriculum adoption was indeed a sanction, not really a choice like the superintendent said. I shouldn't call out the principal for not fixing the danger zone near the drinking fountain that caused our oldest and most beloved senior teacher to slip and break her femur, or remind the principal that she has no standing to evaluate my use of the new literacy materials because she hasn't read them yet. And I should never question the usefulness of rubrics, especially when they are flawed and my students' learning and my teaching will be judged based on the flawed rubric. No, I should just be quiet so as not to arouse the curiosity of other teachers who have been silenced with fear. I don't like bullies and I don't like letting nonsense pass as truth. So I speak up. Oops.
I admit that I am not the most giving when it comes to lame leadership. I expected better, and the leadership ain't good. Numerous parents have removed their kids from the school based on a distaste for the school's leadership. There have been meetings with the superintendent about the leadership, to no avail. More than a few teachers have left, or have been pushed out, or outright fired (tenure can't stop a principal with focus).
So, given that my days were numbered, I have left the classroom and will not return. Thirteen years in the district is all I can do.
This will not be easy, as I don't have any money, I will lose my health insurance, and the prospect of getting hired as a 47 year old man isn't promising.
I do have another alternative, that of expert public school navigator. I will offer my services to families who have children not being served well by their school. I will help formulate and then monitor IEPs and 504 plans. I will tutor kids who require it as part of their plan. And I will represent parents and students in meetings with administration to see to it that the student I am representing is being served.
There are many opportunities for this kind of work in the Bay Area where I live. I will be fine.
It has been a hard decision, and a harder couple of years trying to teach the way I think I should while being hammered by a principal who never even taught in elementary school.
Some of you may decide that I have walked out on those who need me the most. Some of you may be thinking that a teacher who leaves never really cared in the first place. You would be wrong. Very, very wrong.
You see, teachers also have lives. I have had a life, recently, that has taken a toll--cancer, a suicide in my immediate family, more cancer, death from cancer, lack of health insurance, underwater mortgage--all this along with a work environment that is a battleground. I just can't do it. I am not so young and healthy like I used to be.
I will continue to blog. I am hoping to start a new feature too--From The Mouths of the Kids. We shall see.
I have worked with kids for 30 years, since I was just a kid. I will still work with kids. It's what I do.