Being Ms. B

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 16 2012

In which there is blah

The blahs are universal.  They are endemic to the human population, but especially to those of us who spend
our days in the Institution of the School, the Training Ground for Young Minds.
This week is our state testing window, and so children and adults alike seem to veer manic-depressively from focused attention to mad chaos.  In the midst of all of this, we hold this fundamental truth: that only 29 days remain in the school year.
But this is not a motivational sum.  It is, rather, a number that seems to enhance apathy from all corners.  The test is this week, what do we have left to teach?  There are only 6 weeks left, why are we still fighting the same behavior battles?  Why not give up and watch movies and do word searches?
Even sitting in my classroom, typing this paragraph during the last moments of my plan time, I feel unapologetically blah.  Normally these last four minutes are filled with adrenaline, with dread, with some sort of emotion that makes the clock seem to spin frantically toward 12:02.
I’m pretty sure it’s been 11:58 for the past five minutes.
Teach for America seems to consider this time of year to be the, “Amp it up, let’s close that achievement gap kids!” season.  Suddenly, there is talk again of goals, of rigor, of end of year (EOY) projects and assessments.  Suddenly, our email boxes are filled with love letters from every level of staff member.  Suddenly, there are check-ins and deadlines that haven’t pervaded our time since Institute.
Recall, friends, that in the midst of this whirlwind of activity I have approached a new level of teacher-blah. Recall, that for one-hundred-and-fifty-one days (not counting weekends and holidays), I have snoozed only once per morning and woken up before the sun to drive the twenty-five minutes from home to a place where I am doing an important job that I alternatively love and hate, all while being able to count on a certain level of physical and emotional abuse.
And I have written preposterous run-on sentences to describe the experience.
The point here is that I really do believe that the next twenty-nine days are important for my kids.  I do believe that they should be used for “authentic learning,” and not wasted on endless movie days and word searches.
Tempting as that sounds.
However… I don’t believe that these days can be 100% productive and functional (because let me tell you about behavior right now).  I don’t believe that they will make the difference between transformational and not, motivational and not.  I don’t believe that Teach for America’s belief in the Critical Importance of EOY will cause a fundamental revolution in my classroom that eclipses anything and everything that came before.
In the end, the next six weeks will be a more chaotic version of business as usual.  Some kids will learn some things.   Some won’t.  I will push them as far as I can until my arms give out, I will shove my own blahs to the side for the sake of these maddening and precious children, I will keep my morning snoozes to one and get to school before the sun does, I will jump through EOY hoop after EOY hoop and try for another futile attempt at pleasing the people I nominally work for.
And on May 25th at 1:06 PM I will walk out of that school with no trace of EOY projects and my unencumbered head and neck held high, saying, “I survived this year, I survived blah, I can survive anything.”

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