Not from teaching, but from using a pseudonym to write about teaching.
I am still teaching. But I have many other things right now that require my attention, and for now, I am done writing on dKos as Shakespeare's Sister, and on the various other sites that have published or republished my work.
Thank you all for your support over the years, and take care. If you wish to contact me, you may use the email address in my profile information here.
At the beginning of every school year, I try to learn all of my 11th graders' names by the end of our first week together. A thing happens every year, though, when I am verifying pronunciations of student names.
Offered without comment other than, please make it go viral.
So, if you read my last post, you know that I switched schools. The transition has been interesting, though, according to my reviewing administrator, painless compared to the transition of most teachers new to my current urban school.
However, I feel like I’ve hit the proverbial teaching wall…you know, that one that most teachers hit when they decide to leave the profession. Usually this happens within the first five years. This year is my sixth.
So, why am I just now hitting the wall?
So, I switched school districts. I am very fortunate to work again with one of my best friends, who teaches 12th grade AP Literature and Composition, while I teach 11th grade AP Language and Composition and one section of World Literature. Admittedly, it is a big switch for me, as I previously taught 11th and 12th grade IB DP Language A, which focused mainly on literary (fiction) analysis, and now my focus is nonfiction.
All of this is background so that I can discuss a problem that has become frighteningly clear to me this year.
Rarely, as an English teacher, do I find myself at a loss for words.
Now, as I’m faced with the fact that I have to say goodbye to my students, and tell them I will not return as their teacher next year, I just don’t know what to say.
Do I tell them I’m leaving because the school they attend is finally so broken of an institution that it is unlikely to see repair and it is in fact more likely that the state will take over the school and turn it into a Charter?
Do I tell them that, in the words of a respected 22-year veteran, the district is currently “pissing down its own leg” and this is the worst he’s ever seen?
Do I tell them I’m leaving because their principal is a bully to both teachers and students?
Do I tell them that, due to the lack of instructional leadership in the school and district, I feel I am beginning to stagnate as a teacher?
I’ve referenced before that the school in which I teach is about to enter the third year of a three-year turnaround plan, meaning that at the end of the 2013-2014 school year, the state could possibly take them over. Yes, the situation factored into my decision to leave, but really there is so much more.
Anymore, one of the prevailing buzz words in education is “data.” Administrators repeat it so much, especially during professional development sessions, it’s almost like watching that Spies Like Us bit on endless repeat. But what does it all mean?! And is it actually worth the time of anyone to focus on it as endlessly as we, as educators, are now forced to?
Another year, another professional development, and I just had to share...
The time has come for the end of another school year. As I reflect back, I've had to remind myself that the reason I'm here, the reason I became a teacher, is because of the students. I am here for my students; not for administrators, not for law-makers, not for anyone other than the more than 100 students I care for in a given year.
Throughout the year, I experienced many frustrations, many setbacks, many irritations.
However, when I manage to separate the bad from the good, I'm constantly reminded that the real reason I'm a teacher is because of my students. I was reminded of this especially on Saturday, when I had the privilege, as one of the senior class sponsors, of being one of the "buglers" for the senior class. I'd had many of the students since they were sophomores, and being able to call their names for one of the most important milestones in their young lives brought tears of joy to my eyes.
At my school in particular, where many of our senior students do not make it through their senior year, counselors and teachers "adopt" seniors - we mentor them, we check up on them, we give them the proverbial parental ass-kicking that they do not get from their parents. This year, I had 58 seniors request for me to adopt them. As they checked out on their final day, I presented them with a small goody-bag of party favors, each symbolizing something important for them to remember as they left my care. The letter I included is below.
This past week, I attended a professional development about how to make writing more meaningful. Among the referenced books (many of which are on their way to my home via Amazon as I type) was a book called Read-i-cide, by Kelly Gallagher. The definition of "read-i-cide" is: n.: the systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools.
Based on that, and some other thoughts from the training, I came up with the definition for "teach-i-cide."
I decided, instead of just commenting on diaries and such, even though I've been taking sort of a break, that I needed to get this off my chest. Before posting it here, I submitted it to the White House contact page. Got something to say? You should do the same.
Nothing traumatic, I promise - just, as a teacher, reflecting on my practice and trying to decide the best way to teach research...read below and see if you can help me out.