Tonight my husband and I finally popped in the controversial documentary Waiting for Superman.
After watching half of the film, I am so pissed. There's no delicate way to put it. I'm not pissed about the content of the documentary (these issues are nothing new as I've been following them for awhile now), I'm really pissed because, as a teacher, I feel I have no control. I can advocate for my students, teach what I know and what research proves is best for kids and in a manner I know is best for kids, I can write about corrupt leaders in the system and ineffective and detrimental policies, and I can send all the letters I want to politicians. But how much am I really accomplishing? Though I know what's best for students, unfortunately many (not all) of our leaders (appointed officials, school boards, as well as administrators within districts) within the education system do not. Many of these leaders are ill-informed or are too removed from the classroom, and these people often decide on the content delivered in a classroom, the time frame of the delivery, the often idiotic and micro-managed policies we adhere to, and sometimes even write the crappy tests we have to give our kids. So what power do I have? Don't get me wrong and think of me as a power-monger. I just want to provide the best education possible to my students, but there are times that I can't do this due to lack of control. Though I am fortunate enough to teach in a rural school where I am given a good deal of freedom in my curriculum and delivery, I am aware that if I stay in education long enough, I too will feel the same constriction and tightening many of my urban counterparts are experiencing.
Honestly, it's depressing and disheartening to be a teacher in our current society, and this documentary (well, the first part anyway) affirmed this fact. It's a good thing I receive so much joy and fulfillment from my work in the classroom, otherwise, I'm not sure I'd still be teaching.