Recently, after much internal struggle based on external factors, (those are the best kind!) I asked my principal if I could rejoin the 8th-grade cadre–a loose group of teachers, brigands, and pirates, and certainly rascals, asking a few conditions (this is new for me–asking*). This year since I joined the technology academy it’s been challenging to create a connection with the adults, although my relationship and teaching connections have never been better with students. Since it was clear the obstructions to a good team proved insurmountable, it was time to reflect, retreat, and regroup. Some people, quite frankly, don’t dig my stuff. That’s life–no need to feel bruised or sore. We all ask this big questions about professional relationships. And I truly believe everyone deserves to work with people they like and respect.
Me and my silver-lining mania, however: I leave behind the history/social studies content, the half of the humanities gold standard. I loved it and am reluctant to give it up. At the same time, however, I look at others’ pure ELA writings and feel pangs of envy. There’s Pernille Ripp, and Two Writing Teachers, and Three Teachers Talk, Ethical ELA, and…and…and…oh! The Notice and Note page on Facebook, and so many others. So many ELA teachers joyfully geeking out on their subject area: and as I’ve said many times, best job in the world, where I get paid to read and write, and inspire others to share in this awesomeness. But I’ve been to the mountain, and not sure I want to leave. How do I move forward with the best of both worlds, and maintain a humanities’ focus in these days of pointed, targeted testing?
Most Social Studies teachers know this, too: currently, their content area is not ‘on the test,’ (although it surely is), but since it doesn’t say “reading” or “math” at the top, their names aren’t associated with scores, any more than the PE or Band teachers are. We give a lot of lip service to whole-school culture, but I know some who are not math or language arts teachers sleep easier when it comes to the test score results. There is a disconnect between the data and content. The best teachers and teammates, however, know how to work collaboratively to support all learning for all students, and I am blessed with knowing some great teachers–we believe in collaboration, discussion, sharing, curating, and knowledge building. So, in essence, I’m not giving up this content at all, but shifting back to colleagues who understand the value of collaboration, colleagues whom I’ve worked with previously to not only work together but feel responsible and powerful when it comes to students’ success.
I have learned so much this year–when that collaboration was absent in my professional world, I now have more insight and gratitude for getting it back. The adage, “…don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…” My paradise was paved this year, but now I’ll grow back stronger.
So here’s to once and future collaborators: those who know me know my workshop/studio philosophy from my art degree days: put it all up on the wall: discuss, critique, accept or reject, and then go back to our workspaces and continue doing good work.
This was a long way around to say ‘thank you’: to use the word ‘appreciate’ is too small — I cannot wait to get back to the brain trust and geniuses of teaching you all are: telling you I love you is about right because I do. And if this isn’t love, I am not sure what is. You make me better without tearing me down, and I hope I always do the same for you. Thank you for being there for me, too, warts and all.
*More on “asking” later.