Education is messy, period.
I’ve written and rewritten this, going one direction and another, poor attitude and good, gumpy and happy. My mind is going in a thousand directions, working on too many different problems and solutions, which I guess leads it to messy.
As I work with this class, my co-workers, the parents, messy is an understatement. We all deal with bundles of hormones, papers ripped and spilled on, good days and bad, all while dealing with our own issues. Messy.
Yet, we see reform that is neat and tidy. Students will grow by X percent. Teachers evaluations will be based up to 50% on that growth. Evaluations will be held annually. Everything neatly boxed up, put into their little cubbies, and ready to be opened ever year.
Messy. Students, heck teachers, are not that neatly boxed up. We all come with our own baggage: no breakfast, car issues, parents divorcing, kids arguing, no homework, no Internet, the list can go on and on. So what can we do when messy meets neat?
1) Particiapte: Don’t for a minute think that just throwing your hands up thinking “this too shall pass” is acceptable. I love my messy kids, and want the best, but not at their expense. All ready, we are boxed into hours of reading and math with science happened 45 minutes ever six days. I’ve been vocal to my principal, co-worker, and others this is an issue. Has it helped? Nope, but my voice is out there.
2) Demand: Be part of that bigger picture. I see Twitter as this for me right now. I can help keep that idea that kids can learn without being boxed up by helping my co-workers find ideas to stretch their classroom thinking, by following those who help stretch my thinking, who demand that I do better with the time I’m given. Myself, I demand more of my students, in those messy times, to be more accountable for to themselves, their own goals, and their own learning. Knowing the poverty level of this community, an education will help, and each of them knows I demand they graduate! 🙂
3) Just Be: I allow myself to be drawn into the battle, but sometimes, just being there with my students: their ear for the previous night’s events, someone to tell a silly joke, or someone to ask that pressing question. It helps to make the messy seem “less” messy and gives an order they crave. Sometimes, you pick your battles with those above you, and others you dive into the boundless energy that your classroom brings each and every day, and allow yourself that moment to be in awe of of those students.
We are a messy group, educators are, but there is order in that chaos, a simple way of making kids see their own worth, their potential, and their value. I welcome any assessment of my teaching. I have thing that I’m great at with things to work on, but don’t tie us up with a neat little bow, because chances are, we are going to color on it, cut it up, or spill something on it, and you just don’t want that!