Fall is my absolutely favorite season. I get to start over each September with a new (and sometimes returning) set of students. The weather is nice, the colors are beautiful and there is excitement in the air. It may be our last “hoorah” outside for a while before winter sets in and in the U.S., Halloween and Thanksgiving are favorite holidays for many.
This year I see these leaves as worn out, dried up and having seen better days. I am in a funk…that I know will pass, I just hope it moves on sooner than later.
Tonight is my 20th high school reunion. I am not going for a variety of reasons but to be polite let’s just say it’s too far away (because really, it is). I began my Saturday by going to work, surrounded by sketchbooks, drawings and sculptures that need to be graded as the end of the quarter is near. There were too many meetings last week to get to any of them. While I sat at my desk, willing the bug-ridden, poorly-designed digital gradebook our school is piloting (along with, of course, dozens of other new programs) to please, not only open but actually save the data I enter, I thought: Is this really all that I dreamed for myself twenty years ago???
In a way, the answer is yes. I did want to teach and I do enjoy most of the adventures of being a public school teacher. I work at an amazing school, with great colleagues in my department and teach in a classroom that rivals some of the best facilities I spent time in during my university days. I found the diverse students I sought when I moved away from home. I have learned how to surmount the initial confusion and difficulties I encountered when being surprised by the variety of special needs in every public school class.
What exhausts me is: the endless stream of new programs we are required to be “experts” about within a month of school starting, the changed-every-year standards for teacher evaluations, too many long meetings where powerpoints are read, the administration team who admits, “I’m really not qualified to evaluate you” yet they make $20,000 more than I do and cannot reply to one email, the community who chides teachers for being lazy when we scheme every waking hour the ways we can assist kids, the business people who see schools as potential money makers no matter what damage is done to children are the same people who say teacher-paychecks are too fat, helping to raise kids (which is fine) but being yelled at when all the issues a child arrived with at school aren’t “fixed”, worrying over the students who are neglected, or addicted to drugs, who are depressed, bored because they are more advanced than their peers or just dealing with all the craziness of being a teen.
I’m happy to be an adult and to not relive my teen years today but I do need a break from work. A nap would be nice too.