May 13, 2011

I Love My Job... Yes I do

"I love my job, I love my job, I love my job..."

How often do I repeat this little phrase?

I say it every August, when I get all excited with preparations for the upcoming school year: from repainting and re-arranging my classroom, to creating new materials, to getting new equipment, or even to the simple pleasure of unpacking new school supplies (Yes I am a true nerd, and one of my guilty pleasures is the smell of brand new paper, pencils, markers etc...)

I say it every October, when I am finally at a point where I feel I really know my new students, and I keep being amazed by their creativity and their willingness to work with me, and try "new things". Let's be honest, if it weren't for their "productions", I wouldn't have anything meaningful to present at the conferences that I attend. It 's not about the many tools we use; it's about how they benefit and enhance the student's learning experience.

I say it every December, when we are half way through the year, and I can't believe how much we have accomplished together. All right, let's be honest, we all feel merry at that point and the little gift exchange may help keep the mood upbeat.

I say it in February, when the phone rings at 5:00 am, and the most beautiful voice in the world says :" No school today... Snow Day." Just kidding...Not really though... By that point, winter has gotten to me... I am tired... My students are tired... and a general lethargy most definitely seems to impact the whole school.

And then I say it again in April... But this time it is different... I still mean it... But I catch myself repeating it over and over, more like a mantra... Almost as if I needed to convince myself of its veracity.. So I will say it again... I love my job, I love my job, I love my job, but I absolutely hate April and May.. at least when it comes to the world of education... My world.

April and May are what I would call "Angry Adult Season."

I cannot take the credit for this turn of phrase... It was mentioned in a conversation at EdCamp Omaha, and made me laugh so hard that it stuck with me. It is so true... This is the time of the year, where, we (the professionals) the adults in charge tend to get so caught up in the requirements and stress of the end of a school year, that we all seem to forget some of the essential components of our job and may at times display behaviors that we would never tolerate in our own classes.

Hear me right...
I am not denying that Standardized Tests cause disruption and chaos and put a lot of pressure on core classes teachers... Yes, I am one of those who think that those "one size fits all" tests are useless, and am in favor of a major reform that would actually let us use a more personal way to evaluate our students progress....
I am also not denying that the approaching end of the year seems to upset the behavior balance that we have been accustomed to... The "good" students seem to check out early and may stop their effort, finishing the year on the "points" reserve accumulated over the winter.... The "bad" ones, suddenly wake up and keep pestering you for extra-credit activities, when they have yet to complete the regular assigned activities... The usually friendly and helpful colleagues suddenly go into hiding in their own classrooms, trying to accomplish the many required tasks ie: list of fines, inventory, orders for following year, etc ..etc..

But what I mean to say, is that I am disappointed...
Disappointed in us, the professionals, the role models, the people entrusted with the "shaping" of an entire generation... I know it sound pompous... But it is true... What we do, and how we act (or react in most cases) affects our students... Now... But also long term... I know they will remember us.. the way I remember my teachers... And I would rather them remembering me for the experiences we shared and for what they learned, rather than for a "temper tantrum," no matter how "justified" it might be.

Don't get me wrong, I am by no means a "holier than thou" innocent angel in this situation... I too have had my "Angry Adult Moments," and have partaken in the water-cooler discussions at times... but this has to stop... and for me... It ends now... with this blog.... As a reminder of what I am really doing here...

So I want to say it again... Loud and clear... But this time, as an ultra positive mantra....