Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I am not a very good student teacher

Schools all over the district are doing benchmark testing, which means grades K-2 are currently The Kids The Principal Doesn't Want To Hear Or See. The first and second grades went to the local high school to see a student play about an exiled fairy. It was not, as one might fear, horribly excruciating; the actors were all pretty good. And the little kids loved the glittering costumes and the light show. (But I'm not sure what else they got out of it. After the first act, the boy next to me leaned toward me and whispered, "Will there be another play?" Another teacher told me that one of her kids asked when the food was coming. Did he think he was in a restaurant?)

I left Brown early to go to State School for a mandatory group meeting with our sponsor. I was very impressed with some of my fellow teachers. One was working in a Title I school; she and a couple of others had terrible stories of child abuse and poverty. they have to deal with angry and inebriated parents, CPS referrals, parents selling their own kids' medicines for drug money, and so on. And apparently some schools send kids home over the weekend with food in a backpack because they can't afford to eat. I think this is a necessary charity, of course --- a society should be judged on how its treats its poorest citizens --- but it's interesting, and a bit disturbing, to realize that it's public school that has become this machine that does such things. It seems as if everything would run a little more smoothly if schooling and welfare were separate entities --- but I suppose they're inexorably intertwined.

My colleagues also all toted vast, thick binders full of lesson plans, schedules, and handouts that they'd saved. I hadn't saved anything. Some of them were on several school committees. I never dreamed of joining even one school committee.

So I got to thinking that, while I am a fairly enthusiastic and well-liked student teacher, my colleagues are making me look like a cynical slug. They're all fired up and happy and adored by their kids. And some of them have clearly found their One True Calling (like the Title I teacher and an ESL teacher, who talked of their jobs with the same rapt, born-again fervor of evangelicals). I like teaching and I know it's what I want to do, but just hearing these people who have embraced the world of teaching far more than I are making me second-guess myself.

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