Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind is a lie. A big fat lie. I am tired of it and I am going to stare it down and swing my one stone and knock it down.
My whole squad of dollies and stuffies that I used to teach when I was five and I are ready. Yes, I always wanted to be a teacher, that is not a secret. I wanted to help people fall in love with learning and I have known this since I was that little. Years of planning for this in life prior to university studies could not have prepared me for how my mind races now, and it is not racing to the top. Yes, maybe we did leave no child behind (wait that is NOT true) but this whole agenda HAS left great teachers behind and in many cases without sanity.
Am I to be congratulated because my students tested well? Am I to be lead to the stockades for ridicule because they don't? It is so much pressure and you know what happens when people are under pressure, they break.
It is sham...I mean, it is a shame that we are trying so hard to stay present and live in the moment that education IS right now. It will wear on you. The pressure is intense and there is NO way that anyone can say that they can't feel it, because we are being turned into scapegoats for everything going wrong in education and the goats are being led to a death trap. So here are your choices: Stay in. Bite your tongue. Do it this way. Or get out.
Those are your choices.
What is sacrificed? Me..my joy...my love of teaching is on the butchering block and it is becoming more my job, not my joy. The creative aspects that all teachers bring to the table, the respect of professionalism that teachers have is questioned when we are brave enough to question.
But I AM questioning, because I know in the depths of my heart this focus on data as we race to the top is wrong. The way teachers are measured on data is wrong. I know it and so do you.
Today, I went to a funeral for a student's mom. He has moved on from my room and is now a sixth grader and yet like you, once a student of ours, always a student of ours..right? Right.
And in a room where we all have gathered because of a death, life was celebrated.
Its the life of children that need to be celebrated, not scores. It is their hopes and dreams that matter, not a test score. It is their talents that matter, not a test score.
I have felt trapped. I have felt like the walls of school are not speaking life. They are speaking death. In a place buzzing with noise and people, there is a feeling of death. Maybe you like me have come home from work burnt out and on the verge of tears. Who am I kidding, not even on the verge, the tears just come. School....doing school is like this right now.
Where as, at a funeral where we ponder life's final whispers here on earth, life was spoken.
What mattered? Her laughter, the way she put others needs ahead of her own, the bravery she had to fight her battle, the way she loved with no limits her husband her two children. The way the faith she had changed how she "did life."
My student is more than a test score, he is now a boy that lost his mother and if we don't recognize and honor the journeys that the students are on outside our doors, we won't know the student. Data tracked from testing intensely doesn't help us know a student. Guess what? It ends up that no one discussed even Mrs. P's report card.
Don't wait for the funeral to speak life! Do it now!
Shout it loudly from the rooftops, whisper it in the corner where people are hiding. You matter! You have a purpose and it is a valid one! You are a gift! You are unique! Say it over and over the students. Say it over over their families.
Speak life into the walls of your classroom, of your school. It starts with seeing the child and looking at the student..finding their why..and helping them discover elements of understanding so they know that they are not a data point. They are human beings.
You don't need to be a scapegoat for an agenda that has nothing to do with mattering. You can be the change. The change needs to start with each of us as individuals..and then collectively saying WE are not test scores and neither are our students.
Speak life, before it is too late and you burn out the light in your own heart and in the hearts of the students. Don't hide it under a bushel. Let your light shine. Be the best you you can be because the world needs you to whisper not data points but to speak life.
I am worthy of this. You are worthy of this and so are all your students and staff.
Speak Life: Toby Mac