Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rainy spring days in the classroom

"June and July is brothers, ain't they? I was layin' awake thinking about that last night."

I'm leaving public school teaching. For real, this time. But I'll never stop working with kids completely, and this is why. Nobody but a third-grader would think of something like that -- and not only think of it, but lie awake at night going over it in his head.

What I love just as much is how his classmate understood completely:

"Yep, 'cause they got J's. And April and August is sisters."

"That's right. But February ain't got any brothers and sisters. It's all alone."

"Nah, it's lucky."

Every spring, sometime shortly after I've decided to leave public school teaching (and this is the third spring I've made that decision), I have a rainy morning full of IEP preparations and paperwork and hoops to jump through -- mornings like today, and like the one I blogged about last year -- and on each of those mornings, the kids manage to say something that make the paperwork and the stress and the craziness stop, just for a second. And I remember why I'm here and why I love them. And also why I'm leaving.

What job will let me work with the kids instead of ignoring them for paperwork? Does that job exist? If so, I want it.


Anonymous said...

Daycare centers? Church groups?

Betty (Beth) said...

Good luck with the search. Whatever you end up with, I just hope you enjoy it. :-)

H. Dooley said...

Teaching in Philly? We have so many partnerships with different community organizations that there is always a job and it's not always with the school district. That's one thing I considered when I took on Teaching Fellows. I thought, "What if I hate being in a school again? What if it's just not the environment I want to be in? Will this have been a waste of time?" And I decided absolutely not because once I know what I'm doing and have experience teaching kids what they need to know, if I didn't want to be a schoolteacher I could coordinate an afterschool program or do urban nutrition programs or teach workshops on how to get a job or how to apply to college or for financial aid, I could teach a class in computer literacy at a community center... hell, I could probably support myself just advertising my services as a tutor, as long as I didn't have a very high standard of living. Tons and tons of possibilities and I'm sure these things don't ONLY exist in Philly. I would start by seeing what partnerships the Cabell Co. School District has. (Partnerships with Marshall? The hospital? The VA? Volunteer / Community Service programs?)

H. Dooley said...

That being said, I totally want to be a public schoolteacher. In those words. Public. Schoolteacher. To the extent that I refuse to consider teaching at a private charter school, even. I mean, I appreciate the availability of other options in the teaching field, and those options are what keep me from panicking about whether I'm investing time in another thing that I won't want to do forever. But at this moment, I can't imagine why anyone would want to be anything other than a public schoolteacher. I actually love paperwork and organization and boring office stuff, too, to offset the excitement of the job, so that might help. But also, I haven't found the negativity I was worried about finding among teachers. We have very high turnover in many schools, which is bad, but the silver lining is that our teachers are not jaded, not tired. Well, they're tired, but not jaded. I've been surrounded by inspiring, bright, serious people since I came to work here. I know you've had... let's say different experiences... in the field.

H. Dooley said...

And, that said, I did not mean to shortchange veteran teachers. Many of the inspiring, bright, serious people I mentioned have been teaching a long time. But there is a shortage of teachers who have been teaching a long time... at least in my neighborhood there is. So most of my "inspiring, bright, serious people" happen to be newish. By newish I mean <5 years teaching. But veterans? I need those too. I wish I had more of them around me.


I'm thinking that the school and the kids you're leaving will be sad.

However, when one door closes another wider one opens.

So good luck with your new job search.
Blessings, B
PS You may sell so many books you might not want a paying job again but want to devote yourself to writing.One can dream.

Mary Witzl said...

It's all the paperwork that gets my husband down too. Every week he brings home stacks of notebooks, piles of papers to mark, and then there are all the forms and certificates and reports.

(I've always thought that January and February were sisters, though. January is the older one with its extra days. And all the -ber months are quadruplets. Be sure to tell your kids that! :o)

bettielee said...

Best of luck, whatever you do!