I don’t update this blog often. A recent post on here questioning the relative silence of the 2012 corps and suggesting perhaps there is a rather insidious explanation (such as widespread mental breakdown) for this silence inspired me to write on here. I may be a 2011, not a 2012, but for posterity’s sake, I felt I should post because I am NOT having a mental breakdown.
If someone would have told me this time last year that I would be planning to stay in the teaching profession for longer than my commitment to TFA, I would have been quite certain that they were horribly mistaken. Though I came into TFA open to the idea of continuing to teach after the 2 years, I quickly decided that this was not going to be a viable path for me. I found teaching to be unpleasant and, quite frankly, depressing. Not even the act of teaching, per se, but navigating a hostile work environment and constantly telling small people what they should be doing, I just, I don’t know, didn’t like it very much. From August through March of last year, virtually every day was very, very, stiflingly DARK. In March of last year, some (though not all) of the cloud lifted as things began to fit together more easily. Every day was no longer a struggle. I had some entire weeks that by without any problems at all. My students EXCELLED. Things felt, if not good, at least sustainable. Again, if someone had told me at the beginning of last year that my students would do as well as they did at the end of the year, I don’t think I would have believed it.
Fast forward to now. I’m filling out job applications for kindergarten positions in different cities. I am pretty sure I am going to be teaching next year (and pretty sure I am going to relocate, at least to a different school, if not a different city). Quite frankly, I enjoy the community I work in, many of my coworkers, and the families and students who come through my class. Leaving my students from this year and last year will be very sad for me. But I need to be in an environment that cares more about early childhood and doesn’t (literally) store trash in my classroom (a very blatant, very real metaphor for the level of importance my current administration places on early childhood). No, no. No more of that for me. It’s going to be early learning centers from now on (fingers crossed).
I’ve come to an impasse, though, in that I find myself half filling out applications for the burgeoning charter movement I’ve professed in the past to be decidedly opposed to. This is a level of hypocrisy that is so rotten to me that I haven’t actually finished an application. I am not against these schools as individual entities (provided that they are actually successful schools, for children), but I am against the impact schools like these have on schools like the one I currently work at. I am also against a widespread movement to privatize a public service. It is difficult to frame the charter movement, to me, in a way other than this. As I tell my students when they tap me repeatedly, “I don’t like that.” What’s a girl to do? I know I want to stay teaching in the inner city (if not Baltimore, then New York, or perhaps Philadelphia). I also want to work at a school that is not inadvertently (or even intentionally) disadvantaging the students who don’t attend it, i.e. destroying inner city communities. I mean, I’m not saying that all charter schools are doing this. I quite liked the charter school I did my institute teaching at in West Philly. I guess I just know what it’s like to be one of those CMs (or not) who teach at general enrollment public schools in cities enamored (and perhaps blinded) by the charter movement. It feels pretty bad, by the way.
Anyway, just to weigh in on the question of why more new CMs don’t post on here (if anyone is still reading my rambles!), I can say that I honestly don’t post on here because I believe TFA keeps tabs on its members in a slightly creepy way and I am quite certain that people in our respective TFA offices read our blogs. Not that I have a problem with this exactly, but, I mean, we all know that TFA is not overwhelmingly receptive to, uh, dissent, either inside or outside of its movement. I voiced a lot of my complete and utter disappointment (and disgust) at how little support I received from TFA holistically last year and I guess I just don’t care as much anymore because I never once obtained an adequate explanation (or apology?) for that. I know a lot of people seem to experience guilt and shame from the TFA staff they deal with (like people who choose to quit or who don’t have sufficient/good data, etc). I didn’t have this experience. Instead, I experienced being basically ignored by TFA from start to present. I don’t even fill out those little surveys they give us anymore. Any support or help I received last year surely did not come from TFA, and I don’t expect that to change much. My “need” for TFA has severely diminished. I am excited to finish my commitment and teach without any obligations to TFA anymore. I don’t even harbor bitterness towards TFA for this. I don’t know what else to say about it.