The caption on my blog states, “Follow one teacher as she rides the rails of education in America's public schools.”
My train has derailed. Maybe I drove it too fast; maybe the rails became slippery with the icy attitudes of colleagues. Maybe the ballast needed refreshing, or maybe I derailed because they didn’t want to fund my train. Either way, in spring I fell victim to RIF.
Many teachers have received their pink slip due to “Reduction In Force.” For you fellow teachers out there I know you empathize and feel the same pain I do. Regardless of why your district riffed (and we all have our speculations- from legitimate to sabotage, and I won’t get into my thoughts on that here), there is little anyone can do, short of giving you a job, to make you feel better about it.
To be honest I complained about teaching. I was furious with a society that doesn’t adequately fund schools, prepare students for the real world, teach parents how to be better parents-- but that continues to pay stuffy ol’ teachers who have well worn out their enthusiasm for learning, let alone teaching. Complain I did, but I loved teaching.
I loved staying up late to color posters, write meaningful assessments, and test out the latest technology. A long day of playing games, singing songs, writing notes home, and filing endless paper work was somehow enjoyable. Stress could be melted with the teacher’s drug of choice- walking into the local office supply store. I liked the challenge of pinpointing the exact learning disability of a student, or trying the zillionth disciplinary intervention. And yes, even those moments of playing “what’s that smell” and “how did THAT happen?!” have fond memories for me.
I was not lucky enough to get hired back. I did everything, went on interviews, created multi-media portfolios, stayed in regular contact with the district office- for whatever reason my train stayed off the track, and wouldn’t budge. Eventually as the new school year started and I still hadn’t heard anything, feelings of great sadness, depression, and bitterness took over my once happy and creative self. For me, I wasn’t just loosing my job (though not knowing how you are going to pay your mortgage produces all of these feelings too!); no, I was loosing my identity. “Teach” isn’t something I did, it’s something I was.
Despite any residual feelings of bitterness and sadness, I owe it to myself, and my readers (whether 2 or 200), to continue to tell my story this year and share my experiences in education. After all, my experience is a HUGE part of education in America’s public schools, this is happening everywhere! Many districts are cutting some of the best teachers our country has to offer.
Our trains have to take alternative routes in life. It’s what makes life exciting, and if we didn’t have feelings of anger and hurt, then we would never know feelings of happiness and joy.
For now my train is on a detour; I found a position with a great education company here in my town, which is allowing me to stay connected to education while at the same time allowing me to have a very stress-free pregnancy!
Will my train return to its original route? I hope so, but in the meantime I’ll keep chugging along.