Friday, July 1, 2016
Fixed Income Friday!
Most of you probably know that I have been a teacher for the past 18 years.
I didn't come to teaching in the usual way, I sort of fell into it when we moved to NC and my options were limited. So I went back to school to get my teaching license, and when my son was 12 and daughter was 8, I began teaching.
(Mainly because I had no more excuses to stay at home.)
When I first began teaching, it was different. I can't tell you why, just that it was. Kids and parents seemed to be more respectful, our lives weren't hinged upon test scores, and we could create interesting units that were both fun and informative.
But then NCLB came along and then Race to the Top and then an evaluation tool that tells you how effective a teacher you are based on your students' test scores. And everything kinda went to he!! in a handbasket. (And this is where I wave my cane and blame cellphones for some of the issues. Which is actually true, and I'll explain that in a minute.)
Kids began hating school and parents began to blame teachers. Principals and other experts began issuing edicts on "engagement." As classroom teachers, it was our job to keep the kids entertained while teaching. (Because they are used to being held rapt by cellphones, I guess.) No downtime allowed.
It is exhausting, folks.
It might be odd for people to hear this, but honestly, you know, when you're on stage, I don't think people realize how grueling eight shows a week is. And as far as jobs go, being a Broadway actor, it's hard. It's fun, but it's hard. ~ Will Chase, singer and actor
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/broadway.html
And that, my friends, is teaching in a nutshell. It is performing for four-and-a-half hours a day, five days a week, with no days off. (And sometimes, "extra shows" are added because a colleague is out and no substitute was found. Then you're covering another teacher's class during your planning. It happens nearly every Friday.)
It's also taking work home on weekends, doing research for new lesson plans (because the old ones weren't "engaging" enough) and grading tests and research papers.
It's phone calls and e-mails to parents (some of whom are wonderful; some who just don't give a rat's patoot) and it's meetings, meetings, and more meetings.
The 12-hour days (which included 40 minutes of travel time, as my school was across the county) were tough on this old bird.
So I quit. I quit because there were so many things out of my control, and yet I was 100% accountable. 12th graders came to me reading at a 6th grade level and the expectation was that I would "catch them up." Disrespectful behavior (and I'm pretty much a 'don't sweat the small stuff' teacher, but I draw the line at yelling cuss words across the room, or physically threatening behavior) wasn't really seen as a problem; students were back in my room the next day, doing the same things that got them sent out the day before. So I quit sending them out. I felt like I was the only one in Room 316 who actually cared and carrying the entire load myself was exhausting. Teaching is increasingly a young person's game. So I researched how I could still get my teaching pension and yet get my life (what's left of it) back.
I took a voluntary demotion to Media Assistant with a 60% pay cut.
My butt will be broke.
But I believe I will have the time and energy to do some things that I love to do, but haven't been able. I won't have the lesson plans to make or the five hour stand up routine to do every day. I won't have to worry about grading or test scores. I can clean my house and sew and garden and blog. I can finish that novel. And my commute? Less than seven minutes each way.
So I decided to make the most of my new pauper status and write a Fixed-income Friday, which will join (now regularly, since I have the time!) Walkabout Wednesday and M********* Monday. I'll also throw a lot of crafts and DIY at you, because I will not have the money to spend on things like decorations and gifts.
I may be living just slightly above the poverty level, but I think the trade-off will be priceless.