Back in 2012, the district began rolling out the common core through a presentation at Tony Tobin ES. It was presented to elementary school teachers on a professional development day. I remember several elementary teachers sitting there in the auditorium with district heads in attendance on the stage. We were shown a cartoon movie in which a narrator discussed the 20th century education and described it as industrial education using visuals that draw the story as the narrator reads the script. It also showed the difference, with 21st learning as technologically based and much more collaborative in nature, hence the 4 c’s in common core philosophy. I had butterflies in my stomach and my mind raced with images of new possibilities! I remember the buzz of energy in the MPR as the Beatle’s song was played Revolution – it’s gonna be a revolution. I remember feeling excited about this new education reform. Excited to challenge our kids with more rigorous thinking and become facilitators in our classrooms. I absolutely drank the cool aide that day.
Fast forward to 2017 – I have been in the mix of the common core transitions for 5 years. It is early March, and I am on my lunch break. I drive to lunch. I park my car and I begin to eat. As I start chewing, tears fill my eyes. I feel so much frustration with the behavior issues, felt overwhelmed. I am thinking, “Is this what teaching has become? I toy with the thoughts of quitting the profession after 18 years of teaching. I reach out to other teacher friends looking for support shooting out text messages sharing my despair.
You see, earlier that day I had to evacuate my classroom 2 times because I had not just one but two students explode. Desks were being tipped and chairs were thrown. I felt completely lost. What do I do now? Behavior contracts weren’t working and I have to keep my other students safe. Out I rush the children, call for help to the office. I felt broken. My spirit felt broken. Later in the day my friends text me words of encouragement – tomorrow will be better, you got this, I am here for you, just call me. So the next day, I put my best foot forward and hoped for the best. Sadly, it didn’t change. I just had to get through the school year like so many other teachers do.
Fast forward to 2018 – and I receive a text from a very frustrated teacher who sounded so overwhelmed with the workload she needed to vent and get support from others. The next thing you know it grew from a few teachers sharing these feelings, to a few more and more and more and more.
This is when Team Elementary compiled the 2 long and detailed lists of time and safety. We have presented to you so many realities we deal with daily. We need help! We need more time to prepare for lesson plans, grading, and above all the slew of behavior contracts we are doing.
As I think over all we do as a collective group, I am in awe that so many stay steadfast and work diligently and professionally and compassionately everyday even with all of these bumps in our way.
I am compelled to say, no longer should any teacher in this district have to take home work or stay beyond contract hours. As mentioned in my previous speech last month, the old adage that MS and HS need more time is absolutely ridiculous. We must be given the same amount of prep time – 250 minutes. It is fair and it is equitable.
Please remember that time is a gift but it also a necessity.