These are complicated times, and in the interest of serving ALL students (and avoiding as many problems with parents as possible), I’m renewing my commitment to avoid pushing my own personal values and ideology and just sticking to the facts.
As I write this, the nation is getting restless with all of this Covid-19 “shelter in place” stuff. The daily body count is a constant feature on any 24/7 news channel, and there are some real concerns about how we survive economically even if most of us eventually get through it medically. I’m not going to argue the science, the economics, or even the politics of the thing at the moment.
For English or Social Studies teachers (especially those frothy AP types), the Holy Hand Grenade of rapport-killers is the Five Paragraph Essay. Come out in favor, come out opposed, or simply mention it in passing, and off the rest of us will go. Only Wikipedia and Teach For America have achieved similar infamy for their ability to produce pseudo-intellectual chaos and mutual hostility, online or in the teachers’ lounge.
Honestly, you’d be better off bringing up religion, immigration, or abortion. Fewer emotions or deeply entrenched convictions in play that way.
Good morning. Welcome to our first back-to-school faculty meeting. We have several important items on the agenda today, then we’re going to fill the afternoon with pointless activities we found online because the district says we have to professionally develop until at least 3:00 whether we need it or not.
Happy chocolate-covered stuff!
I suppose this is – by default – the Valentine’s Day Edition of Blue Serials this month.
I’ll be honest. This is NOT one of my favorite holidays. It seems contrived and completely driven by guilt, expectations, and consumerism. It also makes it REALLY hard to get into any decent restaurants for several days before and after.
Take Me Anywhere
I was in a band many, many, MANY years ago. We considered ourselves “college alternative” – immersed in R.E.M., the Smiths, the Cure, and MTV’s 120 Minutes. We didn’t actually sound like ANY of them, which was both a glaring flaw and source of inner pride. Originality and Lack of Quality formed quite an edgy Venn Diagram back in the day.
Let’s face it – no one carries around a pervading sense of guilt and inadequacy like teachers. They care deeply, feel strongly, and give muchly – often to a fault. Many of us are able to be professionally developed, pedagogically creative, and politically active, all while scoring way too high on any clinical assessment of personal dysfunctions.
I think it actually goes together – the passion for learning, the tolerance for teenagers, and the emotional mess most of us manage to be. Two sides of the same smashed penny.
I'm sure it will surprise absolutely no one to learn that I'm not naturally the strict, by-the-book authoritarian type. In fact, I traditionally hate doing things that way – I really do.
In the same way your memory of an event will gradually evolve to fit the way you tell it over the years, I respectfully suggest we’ve been told the same few lies about public schools – then as much as now – often enough that we’ve started to buy into the clichés. Unless we stop and question it, at least with ourselves, we become one more purveyor of the same sort of shibboleth – thoughtless, foundationless folderol of the sort we mock when we recognize it from others.
I arrived at the testing center nervous, but ready to dive in. I remember a locker for my personal belongings, and some guidelines I had to read. Then came the clipboard.
“Read and copy the following certification of something or other IN YOUR OWN HANDWRITING and sign and date at the bottom.” I hadn’t planned on this – a long list of formalities I’d have to copy in a foreign script before I’d even be allowed to begin the actual test. The timed test. The one determining if the past two-and-a-half years of my life had been worth it. The one potentially ruining everything. The one I was already worried about, despite weeks of stressful preparation. The one for whom the clock was already ticking.