Monday, April 11, 2011

Bring It!

Right now, sitting here in an office in my school, where down the hall I worked through the years to inspire struggling readers to greatness, I have never wished to be back in the classroom more than I do right now. Right now this very minute! But not for the reasons you think.

Ever since I was pulled to serve as a "Teacher Ambassador" when I was named North Carolina's Teacher of the Year in 2008, I have, of course, missed kids. Even though I've grabbed up opportunities in the past three years to get myself back in front of the little boogers, I have not had my own classroom since that time. So, yes, I listen intently every day in the hopes that I'll hear the administrators' walkie talkies popping: "Seventh grade is moving..." so I can walk out in the hall and inhale children. So, yes, I do miss the kids, but that's not my motivation today.

I also miss my own learning communities, the language arts teachers I planned and collaborated know, the ones who encouraged me to dress like Britney Spears on our Genre Jam day. Luckily, now that I'm serving as a "teacher-on-loan" to our state education department, I have been able to set up my office in the same building where that "jam" occurred...which means I see my collegues often and can get my collegiality fix. I'm still there for all the social gatherings - the after-school baby showers and book clubs - and some days I just get up from this desk and walk into their classrooms. My friends, and their students, are accustomed to my drop-ins. But I'd really like to sit down and plan again, to look at assessment data and put our heads together to figure out what will enable our students to grow. But that's not why I'm longing for the classroom right now.

I also miss the actual act of teaching, too, and all the stuff that goes along with it: room decorating, lesson planning, assessing, re-teaching, re-directing, explaining, listening, counseling, hugging...I do miss all that. I even miss faculty meetings.

But none of those are the reasons I'm wishing I could be back in my own classroom today. During the current tumultuous times, I want to be there to join in with all those educators out there showing the world it can be done: teachers can and will continue to provide more with less, to survive in conditions that are demoralizing and demeaning, and to make ends meet with frozen salaries and pink slip threats.

I see it daily in my school: teachers continue to advocate for kids while working from dark until dark to plan innovative lessons all while maintaining positive relationships with kids. In short, teachers continue to make a difference even as policymakers negatively impact working conditions by making decisions that raise class size and cut positions, all while raising standards for performance.

Yes, I wish could have my own classroom during these chaotic times. I truly believe that as the craziness would swirl around me, I would feel pushed even harder to do what's right by kids. Threaten my job? I'd keep working until they dragged me away, still clutching the active board marker. Continue to reference "bad teaching?" I'd spend countless hours working to get better and better, sharpening my teaching skills by staying in touch with cutting edge research and technology. Decide to make my students' test scores public, along with my name?

At that I would stand in front of my classroom and talk to myself using the language of my middle schoolers: "Girl, you GOT this!" Then I'd look out the window toward the world and shout,


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