I think this was the story of my life…when I had the guts to cross the line. And I was never as brave as the kindergarten teacher in Florida that refused to give the FAIR testing because it was inaccurate, ineffective, invalid and totally ruined the kids’ first month of school. I never risked getting fired the way she did. Thank heavens there are people like her in the world. My line crossing was always a little bit tentative…the kind that let me do sort of what I wanted and believed was right without endangering my job and the steady paycheck that came twice a month. (end of story of kindergarten teacher…I don’t think she’s been fired and FAIR testing is on hold because of multiple problems) No, I wasn’t that brave. Wish I was but I wasn’t.
When I think about my teaching career, I feel pretty good. I know I helped a lot of kids along the way. I know I made them feel safe and cared for, challenged them to grow and learn and care about each other. I know loved what I did. But I also wish I had been kinder, slower to judge. I wish I had taken the time to listen more carefully, to really SEE them (like Emily in Our Town). I wish I had taken more time to figure out what made them tick and somehow made school work for every one of them. Funny, I don’t have any regrets about how I couldn’t deliver incredible test scores (I did deliver pretty good ones for lots of kids but not all)
I think the regrets make me more aware of what counts, what really matters, in education. What matters is the kid sitting there in your class hoping to find friends, to understand what’s going on, to find a “home” at school…a safe place to be. All the rest …even the damn test scores…is secondary. Yes, they have to learn something. Yes, we have to make sure they become competent readers and writers, mathematicians and scientist…but first, we have to provide a safe place for them to learn…safe emotionally as well as physically. And that’s getting harder and harder to do these days. Guess I got out just in time.
Guess this is a school post. I’ve been rereading my “Friday night emails” that I sent out when I was teaching and that has me thinking about school a lot. Some parts of the emails are hilarious…some others are sad and painful. It was definitely time for me to go when I did…but thank heavens there are others who are willing and able to stay and teach our grandkids.
Nice week ahead…Kayaking tomorrow (if it doesn’t rain) and book club on Tuesday. The group read Gone Girl. I really didn’t like that book…cleverly done but I so didn’t like that book. Not nice people. I tried The Paying Guests this week but even though it’s getting good reviews, it didn’t grab me. I’m listening to Louise Penny’s new one, The Long Way Home. She’s wonderful And I’m reading We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas. I like it but it isn’t taking my breath away. Hmm, I’ll have to look at my list and find out which book recently has taken my breath away.