Leaving NCLB Behind

On my best days as a teacher, I’d be at work at 7:15 a.m., spending the next eight hours trying to find a volume level for my voice that didn’t make it hurt by the end of the day – a skill that took me nearly two months to perfect at the beginning of my career. I would deal with common problems like classes who couldn’t keep quiet to save their lives and students who made it a habit of never doing homework. During my “break” I was working on lesson plans and creating homework, tests, worksheets, and the like. I was updating my website and making sure that the homework was available to students on the web so that they could have no excuse for not having it. Left your homework at school? No problem. Just print one off! Once the kids were gone, I’d change my boards and grade some papers, answer some emails or make a phone calls to parents. I would have to make sure my grades were in the computer. I wouldn’t have finished everything anyway, and so eventually I would pack things up and go home and continue to work well into the evening on whatever remained.

On my more common days, I would do all of that and more. My students felt comfortable talking to me as a trusted adult. Most days after school, and often during my planning periods, I would find myself with students in my room who wanted to talk or who wanted advice. I’ve listened as students coped with death, depression, heartache, teen angst, and school problems. If those students weren’t in my room after school, then I was advising (which is code for “doing everything”) a community service club that I was encouraged to start up during my first year. When all that was over, I would have to go one of two places: either to my second job (because teaching doesn’t pay nearly enough for all the work that goes into it) or to a night class for grad school. Most people aren’t crazy enough to work two jobs and do grad school at the same time, but as it turns out…I am. Continue reading