I’m sitting in a quiet student-less room, the heater is humming and I’m trying to get my heart to turn to my brain and tell it to grade the stacks of assignments making scattered piles around my classroom. But I can’t.
I just sat in another meeting feeling like my voice has been taken and the popular kids with the loudest versions of a story have the winning votes. It isn’t that I am wrong, its just that everyone else is right. I have stopped picking the fights, because anymore we just accept that I’m not a voice that needs to be heard. and that my friends, is exhausting.
I love this profession. I know that teaching is MY thing. Yet the regulations that squelch my ability to grow students have put a damper on my spirits today.
I know that this probably isn’t the place to start your life in bloggy world, but I am tired of being a voiceless educator. I’m tired of the same rules and regulations placed on me that my students are fighting through. We say words matter, but you can’t say this or that, and definitely not that, do you know who will be there? It’s okay if you get called a slut by a peer but you can’t reference that in a powerful speech about the power of language and words and your hurt feelings because someone might be offended. You can’t read a book that’s slated for 9th grade because you haven’t experienced the three months between 8th and 9th grade that will magically make that content more appropriate. You can’t get a tattoo, or dye your hair, are you sure you’re going to read that? What will they think? How can YOU be a good role model?
Are you sure you want to teach that? How are we assessing this? Are they learning? How do you know if they know what they are supposed to know?
I listen. And I tell the truth, and that’s how I teach. My kids know when I’m not into it, and quite frankly, the last 2 weeks of this poetry unit I haven’t been into it. I try really hard to create things in my classroom that allow students to use skills and hone them so that the real world isn’t quite that scary. And to be truthful, the kids are ready. They don’t want to be babied, and they are tired of playing the game. This poetry unit is part of the game. I can’t tell you when you might use poetry, but I can tell you how to write well, and some days you’ll feel like a lyrical genius.
As an educator the things I require my students to do are a reflection of myself. I agreed to participate with the 6 other teachers and do a slam poem about peer pressure, because quite frankly “everybody is doing it.” I’m also going to have to watch as self-conscious students are forced to perform their poems in front of people they have no relationship with, and often the relationship they do have is negative.
One confided yesterday that she had to edit what she wanted to say because we were performing with the class that had her bullies in it, and she didn’t want to make it worse.
But everyone does the slam.
It’s a requirement.
It’s good for them.
Everyone teaches this.
The kids love it.
It’s so fun.
Is my life as a teacher all that different from my students? Why do I keep getting squished into a box and told to find my way out? That isn’t teaching, that’s defeating. Each of us must be allowed to follow our avenue and hope that the road is paved with good intentions.