A Journey to the Unexpected

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 13 2014

Those who can, do…

Someone paid me the compliment of setting me up as an example the other day. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it. It reminds me how many people have helped me and how far I’ve come, but more than anything, it reminds me how far I have to go… and maybe that I have to go. I’m proud of working hard, I am, and any teacher who doesn’t, in my opinion, doesn’t deserve to be around kids… but I don’t think I should be an example. If you ask me, a teacher should not be an example of one who spends more time at work than home or one who spends more time fussing over papers more than the kids who write them. If I’m an example, I want it to be as one who makes their kids’ ball games and listens to them figuring out their homework after school, because that’s the teacher I know I want my kids to have. I want them to have teachers who can show a kid how to be a good friend because they know how to be a good friend. I want their teachers to come to their students’ concerts but not if it means missing their kid’s birthday. I want them to have a reading teacher who always has a new favorite book and a math teacher who has time to do things other than math. I want their Spanish teacher to take a family vacation to Spain and a science teacher who makes dinner at night and goes hiking on the weekends. I want their teachers to teach them that who you are matters so much more than what number you earn, that the world needs people who know how to love, and that THAT is the reason for, the journey to, and the arrival at elusive “success.”
But maybe that would be a poor use of resources.

21st Century Skills
I had a dream today
that teachers stood up and said,
We refuse to mass produce
machines anymore.

And someone said,
All right, we’ll just find someone else who

And so they did.
With the good teachers gone,
all they had to do was find a few dropouts
to turn computers on.
They plugged them in each day and
children learned
that if you get twenty questions right
in a row
you get sparkles and games and
five minutes of free time
on the computer.
They had “Life Skills Programming”
where they learned about eye contact and
but they never had a teacher
put their hand on their shoulder and say
It’s ok. I mess up sometimes too and
sometimes it’s not your fault and
there’s a better way.

Parents never noticed the difference,
told the style was “cutting edge,”
told the shootings and the mental illness were all at
“other schools” where children didn’t get the same
“individual” attention,
told that their children were “successful”
not knowing all that means is that they’ve
successfully become a number
that they’ve been judged
“good enough”
by something with no soul.

The last generation that learned to
pretended everything was ok,
while old and greying teachers closed their eyes and prayed—
someday, when they were grown,
someone would figure out on their own
it wasn’t.

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