My teaching day just ended. I should straighten up my room. I should change my board to tomorrow’s warm-ups, objectives, classwork assignments, and vocabulary. I should call the building’s IT guru to figure out why the internet has been down all afternoon, requiring me to use my phone as a hot-spot to get my work done.
Instead, I am sitting here. As I sit here, I am wondering whether it is all worth it. It seems that my reasons for becoming a teacher are being slowly chipped away by a system more concerned about bureaucracy than students.
Today, my last class of the day was assigned a standardized test. Boring, oh so boring, but necessary. Not really for them, but for me. Because that boring test influences the student achievement portion of my evaluations. Only one student bothered doing the test.
Today, I spent my free period meeting with students about their grades and troubleshooting solutions with my colleagues. Today, I comforted a student mourning a friend lost to violence. Today, I advised a student facing a life-altering decision. Today, I split my lunch between two students because their mothers don’t have any money right now to add to their lunch accounts. Today, I locked my classroom door and cried over a student whom I simply can’t seem to reach. Today, I sent healthy snacks home with a student for him to share with his siblings for dinner. Today, I fretted over the consequences to my students of our probable school closure. Today, I worried about the outcomes my students will face now that the school system has decided to discontinue the intensive-level placements they need in order to be successful.
As I sit here, I wonder why an employer would sacrifice an employee’s meaningful work on the alter of assessments students don’t take seriously. I wonder why an employee would continue working a job in which they are so devalued. But what do I know? I’m just a teacher.