So many sleepless nights questioning the very foundations of what we call “education.”
- Someone is bound to bring up standardized tests since it’s what *everyone* is talking about. So in typical fashion, when you’re asked, “So, what are your thoughts on standardized tests?” (the person expecting a simple, “ugh, I hate them” response), you take a deep breath and share your soon-to-be dissertation on the dangers of high-stakes standardized testing, from the ways they they lead to teaching to the test and limiting curriculum, often eliminating subjects such as social studies and the arts; how they harm students of color through methods of tracking and labeling/sorting that unfairly classify them; how they are too often used to fire teachers and close schools/cause school turnarounds in the very places that school/teacher stability is needed most. And, like, there is really no evidence to prove that they have any value whatsoever in education other than making money for corporations *duh* **ends dissertation** ***waits for applause***
- Someone is also bound to bring up a question about all the cute things you’re decorating your classroom with, and you’re forced to hold in that side-eye that you SO want to give this person. After a deep breath, you go on to explain that budget cuts and underfunded/under-resourced schools are becoming more and more of a reality large scale, and that some classes/schools don’t even have enough books, desks, etc. for all of the students. Many amazing teachers are doing what they can to make do with the resources they have, all while advocating for full funding of our public schools. So, yeah, I’ve got a few things for my walls, but let’s have the more important discussions around policies that shape what the inside of my classroom looks like.
- You’ve spent wayyyyyy too much money on books about critical pedagogy. Fifty Shades of Grey? Move over! I’ve got some Freire in my bag 27/4 that I’m ready to whip out any time necessary.
- Summer vacation. Ah, don’t we all just love that we have the ENTIRE SUMMER OFF?!? *bangs head against desk* In fact, many teachers work during the summer, whether it be on curriculum development, lesson/unit planning, programs that the school runs, working with students, etc., or another job such as summer camp (wait, your counselor is your teacher? I thought teachers never leave school! -5 year old me), part-time work, research, professional development, classes/continuing education, etc. Research actually suggests that “most teachers get jobs in the summer to supplement their school year salaries.” Now I’ll link a piece, since I know a link is WAY more appealing that, like, a gif of a giraffe laughing (no promises that actually exists) that I know you’re dying to read explaining more.
- When you bring up a topic in class that has something to do with one of the topics we don’t talk about, you get that undeniable stare from all of your classmates. Politics *GASPS* Race *GASPS* School-to-prison-pipeline *GASPS* and just have to sit there while the teacher says, “Now let’s get back on topic: I’m going to read you a bunch of theories from the textbook while you watch a powerpoint.” *yay*
- Money. That topic that nobody wants to talk about, except when you’re a teacher because someone is bound to say, “Wow, you must really love the kids/teaching, because no one is going into this profession to make money!” Which, at surface value is true. But, you hold back that side-eye once again, and calmly explain that while you’re not doing it for the money, teachers are underpaid and deserve to paid more, such as doctors and lawyers, advocating not only for better pay but also for more respect. Yeah, it’s heartwarming to think that phrase is true, but teachers should and need to be treated as professionals who are experts in their field/content area.
- Which bring me to the next point. No, I’m not becoming a teacher because I “like kids.” Wait, that sounded wrong – YES, I do like kids; I love them actually because I truly believe in the power of youth – but that is NOT the only reason we become teachers. Too often we are looked at as babysitters, especially as elementary education majors/teachers. Sure, I might be teaching my kids numbers, but you do realize that is the basis for all of the math they’re going to do for the rest of their lives? And writing. Yeah, we’re working on our letters, but that’s how they’ll learn to craft the beautiful masterpieces we look back on. It’s at this time that students really decide whether or not they “like” school, and more importantly how they feel about the process/their own processes of learning. That is pretty freakin important. Yeah, I’m THAT freakin important.
- You say “fuck!” in your head (and pray it isn’t out loud) every time you drop something while moving around the classroom during student-teaching. Oh, that’s only me? Ok, next point.
- Everything you’ve heard about professional development is *insert any expletive you would like,* despite the fact that it can, and should, be really valuable. Professional development has become a time for administrators to do their trainings on the next new, amazing trend that is going to SAVE PUBLIC EDUCATION, like going over that annoying Stronge Framework, talking about procedures for PARCC testing, or learning how to be an “effective” teacher (major eye-roll). But this can be time for true innovation, learning about and applying current research to the classroom and school environment, and developing relationships with fellow teachers (but trust me, only work with the “effective” ones *snark*).
- You train your bladder like it’s the Olympics. No snark/sarcasm here. It is necessary.
- Of course, we all do it for the kids. For the belief that learning and democracy are the foundation of all that we’re doing. And while all of these articles/posts end with the same point, to me, it’s because it truly is what we’re here for. The youth are the future of everything we do. It’s why, as future teachers, we all need to learn about child development, anti-oppressive pedagogy, ALWAYS have an argument against standardized testing (pretty sure that was a prerequisite for entrance into my program. Kidding, kidding), learn the realities of what our schools were, are, and be a part of shaping their future through policy/political advocacy. It’s why I’m becoming a teacher, and I hope many of my fellow classmates feel the same way.
With many thanks to the multiple “# of Signs you’re Becoming A Teacher” articles out there that have inspired this post.