Friday, November 18, 2011

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I love to teach. It's what I do and who I am.
To quote one of my high school art teachers; it was a "happy accident" that brought me to teaching. I wasn't that child who aspired to be like her teachers... even my mother who was (and in many ways, still is) a teacher didn't inspire me towards that profession. What brought me to teaching was the concurrence of a shortage of teachers in Los Angeles and my need for a job. Add the fortunate circumstances of having received a BA (instead of a BFA) and the recently instituted District Internship Program and here I am, a teacher.
Recently, I have been displaced from my teaching position. Although this was technically the option of my doctor and me, I was in a position that left me few alternatives. As an enlightened viewer of Oprah Winfrey's Life Class, I am refraining from saying that I was 'put' in that position although I will restate that I love teaching and believe in my heart that teaching is my true calling in this life.
Currently, teaching is my rock. It weighs on me that I am away from my students and that I am needing to explore other career options. My hard place is an administrator who feels that bullying teachers is the way to optimize results. He has acknowledged that students should feel supported in their efforts... "nobody wants to go where they feel they are a failure"... but he seems unable to extend that thinking to adults. In 24 years as a classroom teacher, I have received positive feedback from students, parents, co-workers, administrators, support staff, and experts. I was selected as a mentor teacher to help new teachers achieve success, I've received commendations from the school board, and done demonstration lessons for teachers from other states as part of a district program. Yet, here I am at home on a school day with at least two more weeks of staying away from school as per doctor's orders.
In Paul Newman's film The Verdict, the character of Kaitlin Costello says "Who were these men? I wanted to be a nurse!"
Who are these people who allow administrators to abuse their authority? Some of us want to be teachers!