Questions, Confusions, Dilemmas… Oh My!
There have been many things I have been unsure of in my life. Many. Rarely has anything ever been an easy decision. I like to drag things out, think them over, you know, generally annoy everyone around me for a while while I work things out. I remember the day I found out the position I now have opened at my school. I was in NJ, my mom called me to tell me one of the teachers was leaving. The thoughts started stirring in my mind at that moment. The next morning I woke up with the fully formed decision that I MUST TAKE THAT JOB. No hemming and hawing. I just knew it. It was all but a done deal the next day. I moved home. You know me you know the story.
I’ve never been so certain of anything as I was in knowing that I’m where I’m supposed to be teaching. When Andrew came into the picture I knew still that I would not leave my school. I was anxious in anticipation to return even though it means leaving the light of my life with someone else during the day.
So why, now, am I entertaining ideas of leaving this place I am so sure about?
And it’s not what you think.
It has nothing to do with Andrew. I mean it.
I’m in grad school. You know this, yes? Educational Technology, preparing students for the future of learning, for the 21st century (funny how we’ve been here for 9 years and we’re only now starting the serious conversation). I’m in my 8th class out of 12. I’ll graduate next May. Although I haven’t loved the work, I have loved all the things I’ve been learning in the courses but with each passing course I feel more and more of a sense of complete frustration and helplessness where my own school is concerned.
We’re supposed to be preparing kids for technology that is ever changing. We’re supposed to be teaching kids critical thinking and problem solving and how to be digitally literate but all I can think is that I’m failing at this task. I’m failing miserably. What makes me a good teacher? What makes parents tell me years after I’ve taught their kids that I’m the best teacher their kid has ever had. What made some parents beg me to return sooner than I’d planned after Andrew was born? If they knew what I know; if they knew what their kids needed to be successful would they still think that? Would they still think my school was so great? My school that lives in the technology dark ages?
I have one internet connected computer in my classroom but today it started flaking out and will be dead soon. I have another computer that runs Windows 98 because that’s the most powerful program it can handle. It doesn’t even have a word processor on it. I have one that only turns on when it feels like it. And yet, after successfully getting a company to build brand new computers AT COST with no charge for labor, my school turned them down. Why can’t they see how important this is? Why can’t they see how much we’re hurting our kids, not to teach them using the technology that they will need to be successful in the future?
What more am I supposed to do, besides basically handing my school a truck load of computers on a silver platter? What more am I supposed to do, besides offering my opinion any time it is asked providing research cited materials to back up my answers. What more am I supposed to do, besides passing on all the information I gather that is of true importance right on to my boss and colleagues so they see how important these changes are? Why is it that I’m the most qualified person where technology is concerned, having almost received my Masters degree in the subject and yet others who are far less qualified play a greater role in deciding what things we do and do not receive? Why are we still educating kids the same way we did 50 years ago through rote memorization and drill and practice? I know they have learning disabilities but doesn’t that make it that much more important that we do this the right way?
Times are changing. They’re changing REALLY FAST! If you want to know exactly what I mean, watch the video I’ve posted below. If you haven’t seen it, it will blow your mind. That’s what I’m up against. I have to be able to sleep at night knowing that I’ve done the best I can for my students and as of late, I can’t because I haven’t. I haven’t prepared them for what is to come because I don’t have the resources to do it and I can’t prepare them for what is to come because no one, anywhere, wants to address the needs of special needs children in the 21st century, children who need to be reminded to write their name with a capital letter and oh by the way, need to be using their critical thinking skills to solve real world problems. I’m leading a one woman army into battle against people who don’t even see that we have a problem.
And what happens if I DO leave? Do I give up because it’s gotten hard? That’s not my style. How can I not see this through until the end? I’m invested in this school. It’s not a place anyone walks away from easily. I’ve never pictured myself anywhere else. But how can I in good faith continue begging for change that isn’t coming fast enough if at all? I feel like getting up and screaming, “Please, listen to me! Our kids need to learn this stuff! Our kids need to be prepared! These are the things they need to know!”
I hope by some miracle the right person will read this and tell me what to do because the solution just isn’t coming to me. The answers just aren’t there right now. I’m out of ideas.
Shift Happens is pretty intense! I’ve seen several versions of this before! You need to STAY! If those who care leave, then what have we? A bunch of tenured teachers who’ve given up? Caring is what makes you such an awesome teacher! I know it sounds novel, but can you apply for grants? Google educational technology grants? I say “novel” because I know what it feels like to have a 7 month old and try to juggle teaching and baby and by no means is it easy! If your school won’t get them, you can!
As frustrating as it is, being an advocate for children is what teaching is all about. If you leave and go to another school, there will undoubtedly still be situations where you feel like you’re trying as hard as you can and not getting things where you know they need to be. If it makes you feel aany better, I feel your pain.