Feb. 19, 2009
My teacher friend came to lunch.
She teaches third grade in a diverse aging suburban community.
We do not talk of trips, or spouses or the typical girl talk. We always talk of our work.
Always in that unique teacher way we use the possessive “My” when talking about our students.
In our summer visits my friend Lisa regaled me with her plans for her classroom. A reading center that looks like a tree house… She gives me teaching tid bits that enhance my own delivery of reading programs. She gives me sage advice as to how to navigate through the complexities of management. She is a master teacher. She mentors and stirs my expectations of students and myself.
She beams so when speaking of her plans that she sounds the wedding planner on an HBO syndicated show.
But this day, at lunch after our salads she told me a story. This story is the day Lisa wept.
The district had provided a speaker, Barry Lane. He is one of those stellar souls that knew how to reach the inner world of students. He had a litany of ideas on how spark the internal fire of learning. Idea abounded (not thought on how to assess or another skills delivery system) but how to conduct ones teaching so as to get and keep the kids in the room, onboard for “their” learning.
Lisa is not a crier. She is not one of those folks who go about dabbing at their eyes pleading “ allergies” Sitting there in the front row ( a seat she took to manage her own not liking to sit energy) she found tears sneaking out of her eyes. Then the gale goes full force, she begins to weep. She is off course. She is Sleeping Beauty awakened to the fact that she is now the evil force. It is she who perpetrates the nightmare, pushing relentless the curriculum, focusing on the pacing guide. A spell has been put on education She can no longer perform her job with the passion and commitment of a vocation. She weeps not only for the lost children but for the teacher she is, but may not be.
At the snack table she encounters the wizard (the superintendent). Her swollen eyes led him to inquire “Is everything alright?
“Everything that this speaker says is right. I am no longer able or allowed to do what I know the students need.” The superintendent tries to console her, “You can fit it in”
She is stung and overwhelmed, the next day she goes to her principal. This amazing speaker, everything he suggested we do is exactly the right course for learners, how can we find time to integrate this? The principal gives her a bone. “Oh you are a master teacher” She takes the bone and shuts the door to her classroom. She will clandestinely teach, hiding her excellence, but raising the bar and reinvite her students to wake up to learning. That is of course until she gets busted or reprimanded.