Monday, Jan. 10, 2005

Check back for love of teaching stories some other time., posted at 6:58 p.m.

Epiphany in Baltimore has moved to

I'm deleting this entry because it's probably best no one else reads a very specific 15-point diatribe about my school.

But, suffice to say, I don't think I've ever been unhappier with my job. I walk in, and it feels like I've entered this fog of stress and uncertainty. I feel unfulfilled and unsupported in most aspects of the job right now. Much of the problems are in the higher-ups, both in school and higher than that, but it's also affecting my performance in the classroom.

Today, a colleague looked around our department meeting and said, "I don't think that in my eight years of teaching here, I've ever seen this department look so beat up and cast out."

I'm definitely feeling it. Today, for example, kids put on a mock trial of Poseidon for his mistreatment of Odysseus. Poseidon was played by a water bottle. A kid sort of had the water bottle on his lap and was jiggling it while he spoke behind it, sort of like someone working a puppet. It was hilarious. I did laugh. But that was the highlight of my day. Otherwise, I felt myself being short with the kids. At times, I just wanted to sit in my seat and put my head in my hands and just escape somehow.

I hope the superintendent does something about this, soon. But that's only part of the problem.

One realization I have had this year is a sad one: it's that the more kids I have, the less I care about them as individuals. One of my strongest qualities as an educator has been my empathy, and it feels spread out and barely visible right now. Maybe it's because empathy thrives in an empathetic environment, and my school isn't one right now.

It's unconsciounable to me that the English and Social Studies departments have twice as many students - twice as much work - as the Math and Science departments. How can anyone possibly justify this? These are the sort of things that run through my mind all day at school - lack of fairness, lack of support, lack of cleanliness, lack of resources.

This, too, shall pass. I got through last year worrying about getting laid off every week. Those fears are not assuaged for me. Today, I bookmarked this website. It's a Private Schools of Maryland website. If I'm forced out of this school system, which I fear I will be, through the complete and total fault of our colossolly incompetent Teacher Certification office, I may look here if I decide I don't want to move. I will fight tooth and nail not to, but my desire for fight - to teach in a school where teachers have an unheard-of student load, where there is no consistent or credible leadership, to teach in a school that callously disregards the needs of the teachers and thus the students - has dampened for the simple fact that I'm just not that happy right now.

I don't even want to be around me right now, and I see the same look in the eyes of my colleagues. I looked at my good friend Rose the journalism teacher today, and she asked me if I needed a hug. Then we decided against it because there are already enough rumors floating about us. But we've decided we need to call an emergency Happy Hour, STAT. I think Thursday. I don't work at the restaurant at all this week (!!) so I have no excuses.