I have always believed that you must live your passion - that if you find love in what you do, you will never work a day in your life. I have believed that if you don't work in that place that you are suppose to be that you die a little each day. I KNOW where I am suppose to be - Teaching and school have always been that place for me.
lima beans for activities to teach my student a unit on planting. No money in a school budget for that type of hands-on teaching, but certainly the expectation is that it's the type of teaching that makes a difference. And then yesterday it was $16 worth of stamps to mail all the letters that my little ones have been so passionately writing. They believe their little voices can change the world... and so do I. I want them to mail their letters to their parents, to the Principal and the Dining room staff and to the Mayor and the Editor of the Newspaper. I hope every child gets a response so they know someone is listening , someone cares. There is power in words. I had asked parents to donate stamps but in this tight economy 2 stamps came in - not near enough for their mountain of thoughts. Today it was another $28 in Easter eggs and egg stuffings because so many of the families were simply unable to send in a dozen stuffed eggs for tomorrow's Easter egg hunt and holiday activities. Normally those little extras don't bother me one bit - just part of the job...
This week, however, I have felt a little like I can't quite catch my breath - smothered by politicians who are looking at the 101 ways to decrease a teacher's worth. It's not ALL about money but money seems to be the way that policy makers are currently judging our worth. I don't really remember when we last had a raise. National Boards, which was such a great promise for professionalism, has now whittled away to almost nothing. We have been told we will take a single digit percentage hit next year to pay for more of our own benefits. Then there are the furlough days - at a time when we need more planning and professional development we are looking at cutting the very thing that makes us the most successful and helps us grow as learners. How does that make sense? Now there's talk about "associate" teachers - taking a certified teacher and just paying them less if they are in a co-teaching situation. Just think about how that might play out... I can't think of any real gains in cooperative learning that are inherent in unequal yokes.
But the thing that pinches my heart and almost brings me to tears is that I have a daughter, a beloved daughter, who is a second year teacher... and I wonder if she were trying to make the decision today to pursue education - what advice would I give her? Even though I have had the most meaningful times of my life in search of learning and giving in the classroom, I think I would tell her to search her heart and soul and think about her other options. It's hard for me to even write those words for the truth of those words are so raw that they physically hurt. They sting my tongue and are sour in my back of my throat. I have never felt so powerless. I can write no more. I am overwhelmed with sadness... What are we doing to this profession?