10 October 2011

In which I figure out that change made me angry

I realize that many of you read this blog for the anger passion that practically oozes out of my BlazeBloggy pores.

I also realize that I haven't been posting as often as I did last year. Seriously, at points last year, I was posting three or four times a week. I was spewing forth opinions like a FoxNews anchor.

Now? Not so much. Even when I do post, the posts aren't as charged with anger passion as they used to be. Why? Well, I think that there are a couple of reasons. None of those reasons have to do with education reform, which is every bit as misguided and wrong as it has always been. The reasons don't have anything to do with me getting better at teaching, either, since that certainly hasn't happened. Seriously, you should see my test scores. They. Are. Not. Good.

So, I've decided to give you the three reasons that I think I'm not as angry, and therefore not posting as much as I used to. Without further ado, here they are:

The first reason is simple. I'm living with my wife again, and she has a calming influence on me. She helps to put things in perspective. She reminds me to keep my blood pressure down. Also, since she no longer teaches, she no longer has fodder to provide me with. We don't talk about school and teaching at home very much, so I'm thinking about education less. When I lived alone; I ate, slept, and thought education 20 hours a day. (you might think I'm a loser, but I would point out that I didn't have cable, so I was not losing my life to useless TV) Now I think about things like walking the dog and going to the farmers' market on Friday. 

The second reason is that my new co-workers don't like to sit around a talk about education nearly as much as my old co-workers. I think that the school's architecture might have something to do with that, but that's a post for another day. I haven't had a 5 hour session over beers to solve the world's problems quite yet. Without that fuel, I'm just having conversations with myself, and since I generally agree with me, I run out of material pretty quickly.

However, the third reason is the most striking and the most important. I'm not writing as much because I'm not as angry as I used to be. Why is this? How could this be? I mean, I'm teaching 38 kids per class across the board. I have 4 sections of freshmen, including several that are the reason animals eat their young. I'm going to get tested, and struggle to still be a good teacher while knowing that my kids (and I by extension) will be judged by their performance on a multiple choice exam.  I should be spitting fire and breaking desks with the amount of fist pounding that ought to be happening. 

And yet. 

The BlazeBlog is without fire. Without vitriol. Almost without content. 

So, why am I so not angry?

I finally realized that I now work for a district that, despite being under fire for lack of improvement, doesn't go changing all willy-nilly. In fact, the organization we brought in to tell us how to improve basically said, do what you're doing, only better. This is such an amazing change. The last two districts I worked for were best summarized by the old cliche that the only constant was change. We changed programs every nine weeks. We changed schedules, graduation requirements, bells sounds and internet blocking settings as often as we could. It was all in the name of progress and improving student scores. All it did was confuse teachers and students. No one knew what acronym we were currently using. Bells rang that were complete surprises to everyone. All of that change and the speed at which it happened led to anger.

I was angry that we were never given a chance to let good things happen. I was angry that every new idea seemed to dumb down things further and further. I was super angry that we seemed to change just so we could crow to the public that we were changing. We got sick of it and so did we. 

Now I work for a school where I'm using a copy of the bell schedule from four years ago. It was the newest copy they could find.   There is a comfort to knowing that the bell will always ring at the same time. I already know next year's schedule. There won't have to be a series of staff meetings to discuss it. Instead, we can discuss improving as teachers. Our PLC meetings are more productive because we don't have to spend them deciphering what we're supposed to be doing. We don't spend our valuable collaboration time learning new acronyms, but do spend it actually writing good common assessments.

It turns out that teachers are like students; we (I) like a predictable environment. It makes us (me) more comfortable and when we're (I'm) comfortable we (I) are a lot less angry. 

Less change = less anger = less blog posts. So if you're angry about my lack of anger, I guess you should ask my current employer to change more. I don't think they'll do it, but if they do, you'll read about it here first!

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