I made my students do a Poetry Slam. I forced them to watch one done at the White House by a very talented young man and told them to write a poem. What they turned in was crap and I told them so (in nicer terms than this). So I made them watch a few more videos (all COMPLETELY appropriate for the classroom), gave them a lecture about poetry not being all about rhyme scheme and repetition but about a visceral connection to yourself and your emotions. And I made them do it again. They did, so I did :-)
I love teaching. I LOVE teaching and every day I see teachers who don’t. I see teachers who have lost sight of the student, who are just coming to a job. I see teachers who blame 16-year-old kids for not giving a crap about their education without stopping to discuss the clear fact that NO ONE in this country gives a crap about their education, sometimes not even their parents. I see teachers who are more worried about the terms of a contract than the needs of a student. I see teachers who use all their sick days and personal days, too. I see teachers who get pissed off when they know they’re going to be evaluated because it means they actually have to teach something.
And I see teachers who are moving from sub job to sub job because they dared to move mid-career or decided to spend a few years at home with their children. I see teachers with experience and degrees left on the sidelines while recent college grads get the few contracts available because they’re cheaper. I see teachers trying to find a way to reach growing classes due to a shrinking staff and juggle the modifications from 15 IEPs. I see teachers become mediators, nurses, counselors, mothers, and disciplinarians all in the span of 60 seconds and hear them turn boys into men in less than a sentence.
I see an industry in serious need of reform on every level and a country that can’t see its way to doing anything other than blaming the teachers. I see an industry that is ruled by politics and not be knowledge, more interested in money than books, and more occupied with answers than with questions. I seen an industry that no longer serves the public in the way that it should or could and must be changed NOW.
And most importantly, I see the student, the child waiting to be lead in the right direction. I see the student whose search for knowledge survives even the worse teachers in the worst schools in the country. I see the student who finds his own books when his school has none and the student who gets up before 5 AM and rides the bus for over an hour to get to the charter school across town and NEVER misses a day. I see potential. I see the future and I DEMAND to be a part of it. Give me a job!