Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nightmares for teachers

Night before last I had a truly terrible dream which I remember vividly. I had gone to Ballyhoo to speak to the principal, and when he showed me my classroom, it was only a 10 x 10 room AND it was joined to another teacher's classroom -- and the other teacher was the woman who I had had to do my student teaching with 15 years ago. This woman, of course, was a living nightmare for me at the time, and her face often shows up in my dreams during times of severe stress. I'd describe what that time was like, but it was too awful. I don't know if I'll ever talk about it again if I can help it.

Thank goodness it was only a dream. He showed me my actual classroom today and it was just fine.

I just read in the Philadelphia Enquirer's online newspaper site, however, of just the sort of thing that will give a teacher REAL nightmares:

High stakes in teacher-parent clash

This whole thing, unless it's just the reporter's slant, smacks of a set of wacked-out parents with way too much money on their hands. It does, however, point out the precarious nature of a teaching position. I'm very, very vulnerable to the caprices of those in power over me (administrators, school boards), and their decisions (which can affect my entire life and the life of my family) can be based on nothing more than fear or whim and may literally have not one thing to do with my skill or success as a teacher.

Couple all that with a panicky bureacracy at the state and federal levels who make sweeping changes meant to make things appear as successful as possible every few years, and you've got a fairly risky occupation. Teachers end up doing a complicated dance... taking extra and usually meaningless college courses... re-wording the same old lesson plans to reflect the "new objectives" which aren't really new, they're just ways to sound as though things are happening... spending precious time piecing together ridiculous "portfolios" to display to disinterested administrators... it's gotten almost suffocating in some places.

These are the things which keep me awake late some nights. There are some times I don't like being a grownup.

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