Thursday, November 10, 2011


Tonight I got on the 4 train and sat down near a mom and kid. The little boy was doing his homework. I peeked at his notebook and I think he was in third grade. He was so little and adorable. He was one of those boys--we've all had a million of them--who is kind of disorganized and scatterbrained, always losing papers, has sloppy uneven handwriting, is a little unkempt, and who is small in size but not in heart. It was almost impossible to A) not put my arm around him and B) ask if he wanted some help with his math.

A few weeks ago--more like a month really?--I visited a school and got to teach a class about our program. They were sixth graders (I taught 6th graders for four years), and they were so small and goofy and earnest. It was so much fun to teach them again! All of my teacher instincts came back, my teacher voice, I found myself doing my quiet signal.

I was all psyched up afterward, like I used to be after one of my long teaching days. I felt like I missed teaching.

Looking back on my own experience, and reading about other teachers' experiences, I really don't know how good a teacher I ever was. I think I had moments of good, but I don't think my students knew me enough or trusted me enough. Every year I came to love almost all of them, but I wasn't the right kind of caring to them. And what does it mean that there were always a few kids I really didn't like? Aren't teachers supposed to be above that? (In my head I roll my eyes and remind myself that teachers are human too.) Or at least able to fake it enough? Oh, and how about that I was never good with the parents? I often felt like I was doing everything wrong on that front.

So yeah, I don't know. Teaching is still in my head; I guess it will never go away. I know I don't want to teach in New York. I often wonder in the back of my mind if I'd ever try again living in a new place.

None of this is news to you. But if you're out there reading this, chances are you're either a teacher now or you were one. Maybe I need advice, though I don't know about what, exactly.

1 comment:

Schoolgal said...

Sometimes things happen in life that are a blessing in disguise.

You tried both public and charter, and honestly I think you did a better job in public.

But what used to be teaching is no more. The reform agenda has taken the joy out of it. Today's editorial in the NYTimes proves that.

Teaching is part art and part common sense. But that doesn't mean you have to love each and every student. There are those who make that difficult. Many teachers make the mistake of not following through on a threat. And once you done that, you lost.

I always thought it a mistake when you left the public school. And you found out the hard way that charters aren't what they advertise. Harlem Success Academy teachers are going through the revolving door and getting out as fast as they can.

The thing is, there is not one city that hasn't been co-opted by the reformers. Your life will be hell. But I also think this reform movement will soon lose power as more and more testing is developed and more and more parents opt out.

And there is always being a sub in a good district. You really need to experience what that is like.

Would your husband be able to relocate as easily as you? That's something you have to take into consideration. In the meantime you have a job that keeps you connected to kids and schools.