Where Do I Go From Here…and Where Exactly is HERE?

Posted: October 8, 2012 in From Student to Teacher
Tags: , , , , , ,

I decided to step away from the blog for a few days and evaluate my feelings about what I was doing, try, in essence, to figure out what the purpose of this blog is and where it is going.  Does it even need to go anywhere?

Then, last night, as I fiddled with Pinterest (my addiction) I came across a blog by Jeni Eliott called at TheBlogMaven.com.   She’s a blog guru, and probably makes a fortune helping people cross over from the dark side to  WordPress.  Good for her!  I read a post by her which helps people figure out  who they want their audience to be.  After reading it, I pondered these two questions:

1. Who do I envision reading my blog?

2. What is the purpose of my blog today?

This blog was my first attempt at dipping my big toe into the pool of blogging, but I’m no technology/coding expert, not by any stretch of the imagination.  So, as I tried to answer the questions above, I circled and danced around one word: ANGRY.

Yes, angry.

At the end of the longest school year of my career in organically grown Chapel Hill, while I dragged my body, one limb at a time from my bed each morning, so drained, so enervated, and defeated, when I should have done the Snoopy dance because it was summer, I was seething underneath.  I was angry.  No, pissed is more like it.

Have you ever seen a Puerto Rican woman angry?  It’s not pretty.

I began this blog in a frenzy of gut-wrenching anger.

I was angry at having spent ten years of my life being told I was molding and changing, and affecting the lives of hundreds of students every day and that my job was more vital than any other career in America, while at the same time feeling the pinch of furloughs and actual salary decreases year after year.

I was angry that I spent mostly ten-hour days at school, not including weekends, sacrificing my offspring who needed me, believing that I was an asset, that I was needed, that my place in that classroom, in that school, mattered, made a difference.  I don’t know…something.  After all, I left the corporate world, the 9 to 5 grind, a great job at Marvel Comics, where I received bonuses every year, because I wanted to do something significant in the world.

I was angry that I have next to nothing for retirement savings because I invested my time and money into a low salary and horrible retirement system.

I was livid that unless I became a “team player” and made sure I altered grades for all students to uphold the reputation of an elitist community, I would lose my job, which is indeed what happened because I’ve never been a good “team player.” In fact, I was never interested in playing on those teams so I was always in a contentious place with the “front office.”

Yes, I began this blog wanting to tell every dark, ugly, sordid story of the politics, the special education department, the falsifying of grades, and shatter the thin glass that divided teachers from the rest of the world.  I would break the silence.

And the world would listen.  They would read every ugly word, and know the truth.  They would know that high school students come to school high, and drunk, and hung over, and have sex in the bathrooms, and cheat with their cellphones, and cheat without their cellphones, and lie to a teacher’s face just as easily as they lie to their parents regularly.

And the world would hear my roar of pain, of anger straining to break free, as it  ripped through the years of pent-up frustration, of kidding myself that I matter to a system that looks good on paper, but is filled with boxes where automatons shuffle papers and engineer diplomas.

I’m sick to my stomach that I came back year after year, losing years of my life due to overwhelming stress, jumping through the hoops in the school system’s dog and pony show.

Do you know how many times I had my hand on the phone and was about to call the hotline for Atlanta Public Schools and tell them all I saw, as the dirty secrets exploded in people’s faces? But still I lived in fear.

But anger isn’t healthy.  Bitterness is futile and counterproductive.  I have hundreds of stories to tell about my years as a teacher.  I have met so many educators who have the blinders on, who smile the Open House smile, and go with the flow of it all.  They sicken me.  I am sick of niceties, of pleasantries, of pasting fake smiles on my face.

It’s just like the happy and imaginary land on Facebook, where all my friends are busy with their “fun” lives, doing “fun” things, thinking “fun” thoughts all the time, all day long.

My son was on a suicide watch in a mental hospital, while I sat in my classroom hundreds of miles away, unable to hold him, unable to be there to slap the stupid off my ex-husband’s face for being such a useless excuse for a father.  Why?  Because I took an even bigger pay cut to work in the stupid elitist community at CH and couldn’t afford to get to him because for years I have made less and less money each year teaching, while I  gave more and more of my soul to students and administrators who didn’t give a damn about me.

And I was angry at the non-teachers who often made lofty remarks about all the vacation teachers have, and if they don’t like the salary they should get another job, or that those who can’t, teach.

I had a dream last night about teaching in a classroom, and the classroom had a large closet, with lots of supplies and books and I remember feeling so fortunate.  But people kept walking into the room and talking very fast, while they were taking my materials out of the closet, and telling me that I wouldn’t need this or that.  It was a sobering dream.

I raised my children as I had been raised, believing that telling in the truth was the best way to live, believing that it would set you free, keep you honest, etc.  But that’s not really true is it?

It’s not true, because while I’m sitting here unemployed, the same people who discriminated against me, harassed me, gave out A’s for worksheets, adjusted grades to passing for the minorities and the dumb athletes are still there, carrying on, running the show.  The crooked superintendent still holds his job.  The members of the school board who expected me to play their unethical games are doing quite well, and the community that expects the public schools to run and do their bidding is still thriving.

In essence, I it never mattered at all.

  1. “Team player” has come to mean conformist in the education world–the very opposite of what a good team player does in my view. One way to reform public education would be simply to clean up the language we use. One of the posters in my school that was a favorite of many was “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team.'” What is the team composed of, then, exactly?

  2. drgable says:

    I just recently found your blog. I feel your frustrations. There are a lot of posts that I think I could steal and people would think they are my own thoughts. It is amazing how frustrated we teachers can get, very quickly.

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