I’ve hit it.
It usually happens about this time. Jr. high basketball is winding down, winter is winding up, and our semester grades have just been turned in. I step back, take a look around my room and ask “what is the world am I doing here??” I’m not a neat person, as my wife will attest to, but yet, I prefer order to chaos. My room is a hodge-podge of papers, colors, books scattered, chairs, and more papers. I prefer the order of piles, not this. So I know a weekend of “winter cleaning” will be in order soon.
My students are soon to take their winter MAP tests, and that makes me anxious too. I’m a good teacher, I know my stuff, but more importantly, I know my kids. I know when these tests come, I’ll have three who will be stressed as they walk in the room, one who will take hours doing this because of his reading ability, and three others who will feel awful when they are done. And for what? The data is useful, but at what cost? The fact their tests will become increasing more intense worries me.
This year’s wall is a little harder because of what I see happening to good teachers all over. Here in Iowa, we are working towards a “world class” education, a worth goal if there was one. But, we are spending grand amounts of money to test all over the place, and test populations who honestly, don’t need to be tested. On top of that, radical changes in how we are paid, evaluated, and hired/terminated are part of that world class education. I’ve laid awake too many nights wondering, how does all this change in my profession help the little girl who cannot afford to pay for her skiing trip? How does it help the students who have parents unemployed going on two years now? Too many questions, not near enough answers.
I’ll get through this wall, I always do. I look to my students to help me through. Their humor, their dreams, and their own passions help me to realize that I’ll control what I can control, will help guide what I can guide, and do what is expected of me. My wife gets upset because I worry about things totally out of my control, and for the most part she’s right (she doesn’t read this so I can say that!). However, for me, that worry pushes me to do better, for myself and my students, to make myself more of what they need.
I bump my head against this wall every year, but it forces me to reflect, evaluate, and change the things that need to be changed. That wall’s been with me for 17 years, and if the day comes where it doesn’t show up in January, I may know that the time is close to find a new challenge!
I’d love to hear how you get through your “walls” that happen.