9.21.2012

Not Enough

I absolutely love my job.  I feel blessed and excited to come to 'work' each day.  I try and do my best each and everyday to reach out to my students, to provide them with opportunity to grow, take chances, problem solve, deal with frustration, and ask for help.  Most days I go home feeling like my day was worth something, that I made some kind of small difference.......

But then there are some days that I don't feel I'm doing enough - that my classroom is not as engaging as it should be, that I am not the teacher I should be.  Am I doing all I should for my students?  What could I do differently to pack as much as I can into 50 minutes of class once a week?  How much am I helping my school environment help keep the focus directly on the students and not on the multiple standardized tests the district/nation likes to call "assessment". 

I sit and wonder and wish for all the classes I could take to challenge my thinking - or the conferences I could go to for inspiration and new skills -- and then I look at the cost.  I really hate the fact that I haven't taken any graduate classes or gone to any type of conference and my only excuse is that I can't afford it.  I am putting less money in my pocket today than when I started teaching 4 years ago - granted my income says I am making more, but less is making it to me.  bah!  I digress - money is not the real focus of this post.

I hunger to be a better teacher, to embrace the exuberance of my students - to move them in such ways that they think more in depth and make choices with purpose.  I want to be the teacher that my high school Humanities teacher was to me.  He was passionate, he questioned us, he asked us to think instead of being told what to think.

I want to be more than 'just' an art teacher to my students.  I want to be someone that opened their eyes to a world they didn't see before.  I want to give them enough courage to take chances and ask questions.

Perhaps I am doing some of these things - on a smaller scale maybe.  I have such high hopes and dreams for my students - for my art program.  I know my room makes a difference for students, but I want art (and music) to be more than a "special" - to be valued more than a prep time for grade level teachers.

What I really want is to reform education in a way that is drastic and beautiful.  I want to change the whole way our nation thinks about education.  I want kids to love school.  I want teachers that have teaching in their blood - that are crazy passionate about not only their students, but teaching them.  I want an education system that celebrates the diversity of our students and our teachers - instead of punishing/rewarding on standardized tests.  I want an education system that rewards innovation and creativity - and terminates teachers that do the bare minimum.

I dream of a time when people who are making choices about education actually listen to the teachers -- not to the union reps or to the teachers who yell the loudest -- but to teachers, the humble, the eager, the devoted.  I dream of a time when we fixed education by looking where we want to go instead of trying to fix a broken system.

I say and dream all these things - I know what I want it to look like in the end, but I currently have no idea how to get there.  I can see the future, and it looks so bright -- yet I have no idea how to get there, let alone how to convince other people it will work.

I feel the need to stretch my teaching, to be more than who I am now.  Perhaps some books, save some money for some interesting classes....... dive more into my dream of education and figure out a path.

8 comments:

Nellie Mae said...

I love this post. I know exactly how you feel because I have felt that way often. I'm enjoying getting caught up on your blog posts: great stuff!!

Ms Novak said...

Thanks Nellie Mae. I am glad I am not the only one with feelings of wanting to do more, but not sure exactly how to it.

HipWaldorf said...

There is a new book by Hanna Rosin, called "The End of Men: And The Rise of Women" that is getting a lot of press right now and positive reviews. She discusses the current transition in the way women are viewed in the work world. You might get some ideas from reading the book, I just ordered a copy based on an excerpt in the October Elle magazine.

I have 3 education degrees and have offered to help in various academic way in my school, but my principal can only see me inside the "art box"...and as art teachers we tend to see "outside the box" on many issues. I have come to realize a high percentage of people feel safer in the box and therefore do not see themselves as change agents.

There was an article in Monday's ASCD newsletter that described an area in one western state where parents are refusing to have their children participate in academic testing. It is this parent energy that may be the way the status quo gets changed. It feels like teachers are not heard except through their unions, and as we have learned from Chicago, unions appear to be loosing negotiation power.

Jessica said...

Thanks for the book idea, Hip Waldorf. I feel sad you aren't able to go to conferences or take classes, I think it would really reinvigorate you, but it's not necessary. You have the passion, you always have! Now you can get creative in keeping it alive. Talk to an old colleague, buddy, mentor, find inspiration everywhere and the passion will flow. I agree with you and it's ok to daydream. Once something clicks (and it will) you will be reunited with your passion for teaching. I promise!

Mrs. C said...

I too can't afford to go to workshops/conferences due to the (what I think is) high price of registration! I looked at my state conference prices and decided that the price was not worth the drive, gas and time away from my classroom(so sad). You inspire your students every day with your enthusiasm for your profession! I have found after many years that we leave an impression on them when we don't even realize it. It may be a project they loved or an artist/medium you helped them discover or some small gesture you made. After 25 years I have had more than one former student come back and say thank you for... These are very trying times in education. Teachers are being criticized right and left, corporate leaders/politicians think they know how to teach our students better than we do and we are assessing the creativity out of everything! This year more than ever I am juggling how to assess my students in a way that makes the district/state happy and emphasize to my students that their creative effort is more important than the "grade". I want them to enjoy the process and explore creatively, not worry about what grade they are going to get! Great thought provoking post!

Becky said...

can you get any type of reimbursement for conferences/workshops? Mrs. C brings up a good point that many people on the outside probably don't realize when criticizing teachers...how often do "specials" teachers forgo that kind of stuff because they hate to leave their students with a sub who can't really lead their subject area?

Anonymous said...

I agree whole-heartedly! I'm so glad fates brought you to our building....you are awesome!

Ms Novak said...

Thanks Mrs. C. It's a weird difficult time for teachers - for education in general.

Becky - Budgets are so tight and they keep looking to cut cut cut -- the tricky thing about reimbursement is that it is often limited to certain pre-picked conferences and only subs (maybe) are covered. Gas, entry fees, or anything else often are not covered. It is also amazing how expensive teaching conferences are since teachers don't have a lot of extra cash....