Friday, June 29, 2012

From Fraud to Fellow in Five Days

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.

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