Monday, February 17, 2014
I know this is a subject that I have obsessed over and over again to death. I have always been an obsessive person. I have perfected the art of obsessing something to death only to resurrect it and obsess it to death again.
More on me obsessing about whether or not to remain in education...
I had a light bulb moment today. Things became very clear to me and I realized I have a choice to make.
Should I stay in education and just focus on what I believe education is really about? (engaging lessons, long lasting memories, an enjoyable place to be)?
Should I stay in education, "sell out" and focus on what will gain acceptance from my peers and administration (create standardized test taking robots out of children)?
or should I start looking for another career?
Let me back up a moment...
I went in to my classroom today to do some cleaning, grading and planning. Before I had my daughter I used to do this every Sunday so that I would be prepared for the week. Yes, you read that correctly, for the first 3 years of my teaching career I worked six days per week, every week of the school year. I enjoyed having the extra work day because I was able to get work done in the quiet and I could also feel prepared and ready for the week ahead.
Once my daughter was born, this became out of the question. I never stay more than 1 hour after school gets out and I NEVER go in on weekends. My priorities have changed and I spend much less time grading, cleaning and planning.
With today being Presidents' Day I decided to go in to my classroom and clean up since I'm being observed for my evaluation tomorrow. As I was cleaning my extremely messy classroom I began reflecting on my years of teaching and wondering how I went from loving my career to hating it.
Then...it hit me.
I enjoyed education when I didn't give a rat's ass about standardized test scores.
I currently HATE working in education because I FEAR day in and day out that I will once again be the teacher whose class had low standardized test scores.
At my last school, standardized test scores were not a huge discussion between staff and administration. In fact, I didn't care at all how my students performed on the state mandated tests. I thought they were just one test and realistically didn't give a true picture of a student's intelligence and abilities. If the kids well, great, if not--I didn't worry about it.
The school I am currently at (this is my 2nd year here), has a very different culture around standardized test scores. It is a BIG topic and tends to define whether or not you are a good teacher.
Before I got to my current school my philosophy about education was that school was about creating long lasting memories with engaging lessons while creating a positive and emotionally safe atmosphere for learning. I made sure that school was enjoyable and engaging with lots of projects and meaningful assignments and lessons. Most children enjoyed having me as a teacher and were very happy to spend their days with me.
Last year was my first year at this new (closer to home) school where I was new to the grade level and still learning the ins and outs of the work culture. I also had a child under the age of 2 who left me bone tired day in and day out. I didn't run my classroom the way I had in the past because I was learning what was expected at this grade level and frankly, I didn't even have enough time or energy to shave my legs.
At the beginning of this new school year I was notified that our grade level had the lowest test scores and everyone was mad at us because we had jeopardized our school rating. (We were rated as a B school instead of an A school--give me break!)
This year every assignment and lesson that I have done is just using textbooks, worksheets and test prep. I have HATED my job and couldn't figure out what had happened. Today, I realized it was because of the way I am running my classroom.
If I revert back to my old ways of teaching in the way of projects, hands on activities, etc--this does not typically gain high standardized test scores. There is a good chance I will be looked down on by administration and my co-workers for not test prepping my students.
Ack..... a lot to think about. I have 12 weeks until the end of the school year to make a decision..