Daily Post: Whats the best piece of advice that you’ve given someone that you failed to take yourself?
So here’s my first attempt at a Daily Post entry. 10 minutes and go!
I was especially bummed last night upon learning that one of my English methods students (pre-School of Ed coursework) had been laid off from her job. Just as every student in that class has their own individual course along the career pathway, she too is an interesting story. She has her teaching credentials in History, but was hired to teach English at a privately run academy specializing in extreme need and highly at risk students. As she loved working with this group of students, I asked if she might find a job teaching a similar group in GRPS (and there are few districts as fundamentally dysfunctional as GRPS–in such high need of amazing teachers to work with at risk students). She explained that even GRPS won’t keep these students; they send them to the school she was working for.
That blew my mind! Then it made me so incredibly sad. It is rare to find teachers who are willing to traverse such a dangerous and unpredictable environment in the first place, but the love and desire she has to work with these students is truly inspiring to me. My other students were motivated by her stories of new successes in her classroom, as she was able to try out the methods and strategies we discussed in class, then bring back evidence of how they worked in even the most non-conventional of settings. We were all living vicariously through her impassioned tales, and it was a real-life, blind-sided blow to see just how tumultuous the field of education can be. No notice. No preparation. After an unplanned meeting she was simply asked not to return. Budgetary issues.
After class she stayed back to reflect with me and try to gain some perspective. “Everyone else says they feel bad, yeah, but they have no idea,” she lamented. Just like the rest of us, she is fully aware of how economic conditions are driving poor educational choices and cuts at these times. Yet, what she was most concerned about was not how she would get by, but about her students. She had made such strong connections there, been involved with getting to know families, and serving as probably the only positive voice in many of her students’ lives. She took it especially hard that she wasn’t even allowed to say goodbye or explain to her students in person where she was going; after finally gaining their trust, she did not want to be just one more person to abandon the abandoned.
It can be so disheartening for new professionals to keep their heads up in this cut-throat environment, especially when competition is so stiff for jobs where more is expected than ever before for less compensation tied to the most fickle of measures. So we discussed her options, her ultimate career goals, how to formulate her next steps, and ultimately make this a positive memory unmarred by the bittersweet taste currently in her mouth. When teaching abroad came up, I jumped to explain how teaching overseas would be a life re-do for me in a heartbeat! The opportunities to get outside of America and gain some perspective, to challenge yourself to acclimate and learn from new people and environments, the freeing sense of controlling your own destiny beyond whatever limitations current conditions may try to restrain you with…..something I long for and would have leapt at with vigor…had I not been so firmly tied to US soil (that’s what relationships can do to ya). Ultimately, I urged her to keep an open mind and not form judgments too quickly–on past or future endeavors. You never know when today’s misery will turn into tomorrow’s blessing; you just have to have the faith and patience to see everything through to it’s true form.
Wow, I just wrote a lot in ten minutes! Totally still festering in my mind from yesterday…