Beyond the brink of exhaustion, I leave our first (Baltimore) day of the EdTech Link fellowship. I get in my car and begin to sob. I cry all the way home. I spent over 20 hours traveling and less than 15 hours sleeping in the last five days. I am hungry and tired.
I am not crying because of any of these things I listed above.
I am crying because for the first time in my life I love my job. I have spent four years not-loving teaching. I have liked teaching. I have even loved moments, days, and weeks of teaching. I do not love the job of teaching students with the pressure to sustain a broken system. Today I started to believe that this could change, I could change, and the system of education could be changed.
I am crying because for the first time in my life I trust my co-workers. I have spent four year skeptical of the teachers and administration around me. Do not misunderstand me here-- I have been blessed to work with incredibly gifted teachers and mentors in my career. I cherish these teachers that have guided me and I would never question their motives. But I have never looked around a room of my entire staff and believed in my heart that everyone in the room had my best interests in mind, as a teacher and as a human being. Today I believed my colleagues when they encouraged me to go against the grind, when they promised to support me, when they immediately reminded me that they have my back. Today, I have true leaders and friends standing with me in this battle to take back our students' right to learn.
I am crying because I believe for the first time in four years I might actually make a difference. I am starting to realize that I have spent all this time wasting time, running around and never really doing much that would allow my students to flourish or succeed. I have been part of the problem. I have been scared that their ideas, their thoughts, their noise would not be good enough for the "yearly expected growth" that I am required to produce from each child. I have forced them to stuff it down and masqueraded as a teacher.
So on the heels of ISTE and a whirl-wind first week of our fellowship, I am making a promise to my students and myself:
From now on your learning will be real and relevant. We will stop pretending. I will defend your right to explore, engage, and be your real, whole self in my space. I promise foster your passion, and if you don't have one, we will search until you find one. I will be better so you can learn differently.