Monday, January 25, 2016

Because I need to say my piece

          I know that I am a highly effective teacher in the classroom, and that I am, indeed, a dedicated and caring teacher with loads to pour into the lives of my students, and that no matter what else others may think or feel or believe about my abilities, or supposed lack thereof, it really shouldn't matter to me because I make a difference in the lives of my students.  Period.  I really, really, really want to stand by that feeling and forget about anything else.
          But those nice things like pay raises and bonus money that are dangled in front of teachers' faces frustrate me, (especially since National Board Certification Bonus money was done away with in our state - the reason I thought I could afford my $1100 monthly mortgage payments, BTW).  I think about all the reasons I really do qualify for the new bonus that has been created and will likely become law, and I feel that perhaps I should start to look outside the teaching profession to regain some self-esteem. (I recently saw an advertisement for someone to work in a rent-a-car office, and the starting pay was over $10,000 MORE a year than I make now as a teacher with 18+ years of experience and a Master's degree.

          Consider my reasons and some of my accomplishments:

  • having my master's degree 
  • being a National Board Certified teacher
  • teaching in my district and the public school system for 18+ years
  • teaching over 9 semesters at the local state college level
  • serving on multiple state-level committees for standardized testing
  • working as an item creator for the Florida State Teachers' Certification exam
  • creating items for the state's multiple-choice component of the previous writing test
  • being a member of the Board of Directors for my state-level professional-development organization for more than ten years
  • volunteering to do things above and beyond what I am required by contract to do 
These things and more that I do should demonstrate that I am not simply there to collect the paycheck, and that I do whatever it takes to stay current in my field in order for my students to be successful.  But then when I think about it, it really ticks me off that all of these things including the 18+ years I've spent teaching in my district, and the 18+ excellent evaluations I've had along the way don't seem to matter.
          And wouldn't you think that an exemplary school such as mine should be filled with exemplary teachers...not teachers who are made to feel unappreciated for the all those extra things they do? Wouldn't an administrator who is proud of the level of hard work the schools' teachers put in everyday feel that the school has the best teachers in the district, and that they should be recognized for this? You would think so, right?  
          So why would someone brag that there are going to be very few "highly effective" teachers at the school this year (a school that is only one point away from an "A," I'm told), and that even teachers who have consistently demonstrated proven student success are now rated as "needs improvement" for things that just don't make sense.  For instance, imagine a group of students in a class discussion who are excited and engaged; these students were permitted to participate in an authentic discussion that was completely on topic and that completely answered the Essential Question of the day, but that they sometimes spoke over each other because they were so passionate about the discussion.  Apparently, this faux-pas overshadowed the realness of their genuine engagement.
          Yes, they should have been more patient and polite, and yes, they should have waited their turn to speak, but when teenagers get excited about something, it's just crazy to put a damper on that. It was such an awesome discussion, and I wouldn't change one single second of what happened.  You know, I have seen adults who don't wait their turn to speak when they are passionate about what they have to say.  Even when those adults have very LITTLE to say, they often demand to say it right away, even though someone else is still talking.
          Well. Okay. There isn't really anything else to say.  So. My rant is over for the moment, and I will go on doing what I do because I love teaching, and I know I have the most personally rewarding job in the world. Every time a student lets me know that they trust me by sharing what is going on in their world, or when they tell me that they have learned something they didn't know before, I feel successful and highly effective.  No one can take that away from me.  No. One. I will continue to do what I know is best for my students, regardless of the effect on my own paycheck. The paycheck is not the point.  The genuine learning of my students IS the point.  There are so many more things that could be added to this rant, but I will leave it at this: Facebook gave me my Bible verse for the year, and it really is very appropriate: II Timothy 1:7 [KJV"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Thanks, Facebook.  I'll take it. Amen!

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