Sunday, February 23, 2014

Now What?

I've probably had the most trying year as a teacher.  It's been over eleven years since I began my teaching career, first with students with learning disabilities.  These are students who have normal intelligence, but are unable to learn like typical peers without support to tap into their learning styles.  Then, I made a leap to the moderate/severe spectrum, requiring me to get another credential, which in California meant another two plus years of schooling.  All in all, I spent thirteen years in college to become a teacher.  Odd as it sounds, right?  Shouldn't I be a doctor?  I could've spent less time and be earning significantly more money!  Hindsight...tsk tsk. 
But I can't complain. I've birthed four children and been able to see all their firsts and be with them until they went into school.  I had my first child and went to get an administrative assistant certificate...what a waste of time.  I flew through that eighteen month program without a blink of the eye.  What a bore.  Did I need that to be able to answer phones?  I was hired at a produce procurement company that brokered produce for companies nationwide and into Canada.  Three months I spent there answering phones.  I was moved up to assistant buyer and was eventually placed on the largest account.  I worked with some terrific people, and some not so terrific.  I remember one day looking at the gentlemen next to me.  They worked there many, many years, most of them without college educations, and there I sat among them, topping out at twenty-two.  What was I doing?  I didn't love the job, got paid very little, and had almost no respect being one of two women doing what I did.  It was time I did more.  With my oldest age four by then and my second child, Kindsay, just nine months old, I headed to college.  I gave birth to my first son between semesters, and then had my youngest three weeks into my credential program and returned after missing only two classes.  I barreled through, accomplishing my bachelor's, master's, and two credentials with two levels, and only two Bs the entire thirteen years without a drop of sweat from my head.  (I don't get on myself for the Bs.  One was in Calculus, and I took it at the same time I took pre-Calc, and the other was in an online pilot class for level two statistics.  It was a challenging class to do online.)  Hmph...whatever, right?  So I worked my tail off to get where I am.  Ahhh...finally--right where I want to be.  Teaching children with intellectual disabilities how to manage their lives, be independent, learn to navigate their ways into truly is rewarding when you see a child with Down syndrome accomplish a task that was foreign only months before.  I used to want to go into administration, but I've since learned that you can't be a mom first.  You have to give up many hours, uncompensated, to keep up appearances that all is well when in fact the school is a mess because higher ups lose touch with the work in the trenches.  Not only that, but the lawmakers make it more and more restrictive for school districts to do what is necessary to graduate students who are truly ready to tackle life in the way they are most suited for.  That is waaaay too frustrating for me to have to see up close.  As a teacher, I can see it from a distance, and it doesn't feel so ugly like I imagine it does from the front row. 
Snooze, bore...come on Yvette...blah blah blah, me me me.  No, I'm not great, I'm no hero, I'm not one of the noble ones (although if you haven't been in a classroom, particularly in the communities I serve, then you have absolutely no idea what awaits teachers every day unless you watch Dangerous Minds or something...there was no exaggeration in that movie whatsoever--except leave out the heart-warming ending.)  I'm not here to talk about my accomplishments--those are mediocre and done out of necessity.  What I do want to say is that I went through all that education, spent the money, time, energy to be where I wanted to be--and now I want out.
Typical job boredom?  No.  Ready for more challenging work?  No.  Feel like it isn't me?  No.  Tired of getting my butt kicked and life threatened every day?  Yes.
Here is the criminal part of teaching, especially in California, in the United States--teachers have no rights...only the students have rights, even their parents have more rights than the teachers.  What is considered appalling to many civilians is what I face daily.  I am slapped, spit on, hair-pulled, violated, and scratched just about daily, and there is nothing I can do about it.  There is a lot I've said already, so I won't go on any further at this point, but I will share with you in subsequent entries what I am dealing with this year, and probably from now on, so that you understand what the teaching trenches are burdened with.  All I ask of you, reader, is that you refrain from judging me or my fellow teachers, as we do the very best we can with what resources we have.  Unfortunately, there are no resources grand enough to subdue a student who wants to go home and will stop at nothing to make it happen, including taking me by the hair and yanking me to the ground.  I must offer this student a full day of education whether I want to or not. 
Thirteen years...thousands of get spit on?  Sounds crazy?!  That's just the tip of it.
scratches received by a student...just another day at the office
I will be writing more frequently on this--I'm a bit overwhelmed and frazzled these days, but venting through my blog releases enough to get me by.

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