If given the choice

What She Wore: Khaki pants; peach-colored hoodie; black beaded mules (like the ones in this picture, but black).


Recently Sherry Sherry posed an interesting question to me, and my response would have been so long that I decided to make it into it’s own blog.  Here’s what she asked me:

If you were given the opportunity to go to a better school, in a better school district, would you leave your current one?

The simple answer is yes and no.

Right now, I would not leave this job for a "better" district if given the choice.  My principal sets a no-nonsense tone, and students are aware of it the minute they walk in the door.   I feel safe and needed.   I know the kids better and the kids get to know me better.  I see a difference when I take just a few minutes out of my day to tutor, or wish someone "happy birthday."  These kids take it to heart when I tell them I’m watching them, and that I expect more.  These kids won’t jump through hoops for me for an A, a B, or even a C;  an F is nothing new to them.  They participate in class because it’s interesting, because they want to know–they learn for the instrinsic value of being a little smarter. 

You won’t find many kids like that in a middle class school.  In a middle class school you’ll have children who want the A–but have no interest in the material.  In a middle class school you’ll have fewer discipline problems, but your responsibility to the parents will be greater.  Your grading practices will be scrutinized, and you can expect to argue with parents if their child gets a C.  A private school would be even worse with regards to parents.  They’ll be paying for this education, so they’ll expect their child to earn certain grades.  I’ve heard stories where students have told teachers, "do you know who my father is?  I could have you fired."  I’ve had a friend who worked in a middle class school be threatened by a parent (adn school board member) when she caught a child cheating on an exam.  In private schools you can also expect less pay, and more responsibility. 

The thing about my current job is that it makes me proud.  Even I wasn’t sure that I could teach in this kind of school.   When I first left college, I wouldn’t even apply in the urban district that I lived in–I just didn’t think I could handle it.  But I can do it, and I feel good about the kinds of kids I teach, the obstacles I have overcome, and the fact that I got a view of life that’s different than my own.  I’ve grown as teacher and as a person, and that is invaluable.   

But would I leave in the future?  Maybe.  If I ever felt unsafe my two weeks would be in the principal’s box–I know that for sure.  But I’ve never felt unsafe.  I may want a different challenge one day, though–I may want to figure out a different kind of school, and a different kind of student.  I’m rarely satisfied with the status quo–I push myself as far as I think I can go. 

So, for now, no–you can keep your middle class school.  For the future–that’s anybody’s guess.

KM 

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About takedeux

In one summer I had a baby who was hospitalized for five weeks, quit my job, and moved back to my hometown. This blog is about starting over.
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15 Responses to If given the choice

  1. Unknown says:

    Some times I love coming here and catching up…today I read the last five blogs or so.
     
    Re hubby/baby attachment thingy: Funny I did it bassackwards to your blog, I picked the kids and just recently found the hubby. I do have many moments of…I wish HIM was the father of my daughter…but all the moments I\’ve had w/ my children, I wouldn\’t trade them for anything. No matter what happens in your relationship with your hubby a CHILD!!! I can only say…it\’s your CHILD!!! YAY YIPPEEEE WHOHOOOOO!!! Yeah that about sums it up…hehe
     
    Re some kids shouldn\’t goto school: No quick fix for this issue, I do think mostly it\’s the parents indifference at fault for bad kids. Although the BOY has had MANY moments, and I of course typically don\’t blame it on my parenting.
     
    Re: Kid stealing: I bet that child had heard the saying "Finders keepers losers weepers…" I remember this time I found $300 in Baton Rouge @ a meat market, my father was with me. (I always pick stuff up off the ground, always watching my feet, I find a lot of money…lol) All I could think of was this lady with 7kids and no grocery money, I turned it in. I\’ve told the story several times and MANY people think I\’m stupid for turning it in, but in my soul I\’m cool with being "stupid".
     
    rub the buddha belly for me and make smootchie noises for the baby,
    Mercy

  2. Jaysey says:

    Amen!  There\’re days I\’d love a cushy Univ. job with my own TA to do all the "grunt work." 
     
    I\’ve seen in my dual credit high schools the problem with the parents in the middle-to-upper middle class schools.  Right now one of my colleagues is embroiled in a battle with a couple of students/parents from such a high school who plagiarized their final research papers.  The parents will not allow that their children have done something wrong.  Rather, they expect the instructor to give them As.  Unfortunately, they decided to take a college class in high school…and we don\’t play with cheaters.

  3. Sheryl-Ann says:

    Hey KM, thanks for your reply.  I can\’t sleep these days so all kinds of things go through my head when I am up at 2am.  I totally understand what you are saying.  I never thought about all the problems the middle class schools would have and your answer showed me a totally unexpected perspective.  Thanks again!  Hope you and the baby are well……enjoy the weekend.

  4. Hilary says:

    Now I respect you even more!  I am SOO glad there are devoted teachers out there.  Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

  5. Betty says:

    Hi KM,
     
    I\’m with you.  Who knows what the future will bring.  In my twenties I could not have foreseen what my future choices would be.  I, too, left it open to the circumstances and needs of the time in my life.  Living in the now has been successful for me.
     
    Betty

  6. Tracy says:

    You are such a good teacher!! That is interesting, I had never thought of the issues that come up with middle class schools with parents etc.  That\’s so crazy that a kid told the teacher he could have her fired because of who his dad is! Ya, THAT is great stuff to be teaching your kid!!!  I never really understood the point of private schools and why people pay so much for a private school education — do you really think it makes the kid that much better off in life because their parents spent the big bucks on a school?  Personally I don\’t think so but I also don\’t know as much as you know of the insides of the profession.  It\’s kinda like college, I went to a state school (as I know you did too!) which is obviously cheaper than private schools whereas I know people who spent five times as much on their eduation – is their degree worth more than mine? I think not!

  7. g says:

    Good for you and having a good principal helps…my son goes to middle school next year and the principal there does not like dealing with discipline and it is not a happy place to work…the teachers that I talk to are not happy.  if i don\’t like the atmosphere, he will be going to private school…we need new principals who are willing to be strict in at least 3 of our schools elem and middle.
     
    g.j

  8. Nora says:

    I am still giggling over the probability question.  I hear what you are saying about the problems at middle class schools, those are several of the reasons my husband isn\’t teaching any longer.  Why does the educational spectrum seem so skewed to your schools situation, poverty and low parental involement, to less poverty but the parents think their kids deserve everything handed to them?  I think it\’s great that you have tried something you didn\’t think you could do and have now learned to love it. 

  9. Nora says:

    I am still giggling over the probability question.  I hear what you are saying about the problems at middle class schools, those are several of the reasons my husband isn\’t teaching any longer.  Why does the educational spectrum seem so skewed to your schools situation, poverty and low parental involement, to less poverty but the parents think their kids deserve everything handed to them?  I think it\’s great that you have tried something you didn\’t think you could do and have now learned to love it. 

  10. Aimee says:

    ya i agree with you…i would feel the same in your shoes…
    :o) smiles are contagious…so pass one to people that you love and those you don\’t…and soon everyone will be smiling… :o)

  11. g says:

    ____0000000000______0000000000_____ __000________000__000________000___ _000___________0000___________000__ 000_____________00_____________000_ 000____________________________000_ 000___________THANKS__________000_ _000____________FOR___________000__ __000__________BEING_________000___ ___000__________MY_________000____ _____000______FRIEND______000______ _______000______________000________ _________000__________000__________ ____________000____000_____________ ______________000000_______________ ________________00_________________ TODAY IS THANK A FRIEND DAY !!!!!!PASS THIS TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS HERE IN BLOGLAND.JUST TO LET THEM KNOW YOU WERE THINKING ABOUTTHEM TODAY!!!!
     
    g.j.

  12. Antonella says:

    Good for you! It\’s so great that you love your job!Not many people can say that.
    Hope all is well,
    Antonella

  13. Wahzat says:

    beautiful explanation!

  14. Christine says:

    Great post!  I am proud of you for examining the question and answering it so honestly.  You are absolutely right about the expectations that come along in middle class and private schools.  The kind of students you work with desperately need someone like you in their lives.  You may be more of a constant for them than who is at home.  I hope you are well.
     
    Christine

  15. Christine says:

    Great post!  I am proud of you for examining the question and answering it so honestly.  You are absolutely right about the expectations that come along in middle class and private schools.  The kind of students you work with desperately need someone like you in their lives.  You may be more of a constant for them than who is at home.  I hope you are well.
     
    Christine

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