Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Why bother?"

In Dana Patterson's  "Why Bother?" she explores why it's worth it to be in the trenches with the kidsBeing an educator, as explained by Patterson, is all about being a role model, a guidance counselor and sometimes, even a mother.  It's about making decisions that could deeply impact my student's life one way or another, good or bad.

For instance, Do I call the parent of the a child who's  got an "F" in my class because he refuses to pay attention, even though I know that student will be verbally berated as soon as he gets home? Heck, I saw it happen face-to-face at conferences.  Or worse, do I make the phone call if there is any suspicion of physical abuse? I mean, really, the kid said his mom beats him if doesn't do his homework. What if it's true. Of course I talked to counselor and the SRO officer, calls were made, but no proof. But what if it's true...even a little bit?  If I don't call, I'm not communicating with parents, I'm not fulfilling my professional duties. If I do, God knows what the outcome might be and whether or not the student will trust me again.  Maybe that phone call could be the catalyst to something much scarier, even unthinkable.  Maybe I'm just being paranoid.  I don't know.

The point is, as a teacher I'm not just responsible for me.  I'm not just responsible for my students. I'm responsible for an entire group of people I can't control or even necessarily find or communicate with. How does that even make sense? There are so many variables and where does the responsibility rest?  On the teacher's shoulders, of course. You know the buzzwords, "teacher accountability."  But here's the catch, "teacher accountability" doesn't mean parents can excuse themselves from the table of responsibility and it also doesn't mean our profession as educators should become the scapegoat of the world's woes--economic, social, whatever.

Even with the negative environment that is swirling like a rabid tornado around the world of public education, I LOVE what I'm doing and I love the challenges these types of situations present, but I hate the negative opinion, the negative press and the lack of support for quality teachers that is plaguing education.  Yep, I have bad days and the kids at school can drive me crazy, but I do care and I do bother. Why do I bother? Because someone needs to be there for the kids when everyone else is giving up on them.  Because high schoolers are truly the funniest people I know and I laugh, cry, speak sternly and even provide the occasional snort because they impact me just as much as I do them.  They make me happy. More importantly, they make me see myself for all the good and bad that I am, and they force me to reflect, change and reflect again.  The question is, why shouldn't you bother? 

Speaking of funny high school students...look at the funny, harmless prank my advanced junior English kids did to my classroom. They got into my room an hour before school even started, stuck thousands of sticky notes all over my room. That's why I love teaching high schoolers.  That's why I "bother." 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Response to Five Tips for Smarter Social Networking

While reading the article, "Response to Five Tips for Smarter Social Networking," I was immediately battling some serious internal conflict.  I mean, truly, what does it mean to be a social networking member and a friendly neighbor?  The article explains that people should be willing to be somewhat transparent, meshing their personal lives with their professional ones, an opportunity to "break down the walls."

The problem, however, is that those walls are necessary but to what extent?  I just had a conversation with a colleague and we were discussing the tendency of perception skewing and even misinterpreting any blog's intentions.  As a current English teacher and an ex-journalism teacher of 9 years, my stomach flip-flops when I think about all the news articles that had the best intentions, but ended with the worst results.  That's my fear with blogs, but what's worse is it's about me regardless of how personal or impersonal it is.

At the same time I recognize the important of building trust and letting people in a little bit at a time.  I mean, jeeze, that's what we do with our students. But what's more important is finding that balance and in order to find balance, you've got to take risks.  It's quite a conundrum and I'm just in the beginning phases of figuring out, which explains why I didn't ever blog until Josh (@josh_allen, my instructor, forced me to.  :)