DTDGU Episode 2
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“Don’t you trust me to make good decisions in my classroom?” I don’t know about you, but there was a time when I both wanted and didn’t want to know the answer to that question. This was especially true when it came to a particular principal I was working under. In my case, I never had to face an interrogation of my practice. Instead, what I experienced can be described as a looming, lurking specter of disapproval. When I was on campus, judgment felt like it was laying in wait around each corner. And even though I did not get called into the front office, nor did I ever get written up, what I experienced internally–both mentally and emotionally–bordered on the oppressive.
I know that I am not alone in the experience of being under the watchful eye of a distrusting administration. As a very young first grade teacher, my good friend Nancy Erwin found herself in a classroom where she was watched very closely. Hired by a district that was working to improve certain metrics, not only did she have to learn the ins and outs of being a first time teacher–one where she had to familiarize herself with the curriculum, differentiate instruction, and learn all the different (and sometimes heartbreaking) backgrounds of her students–but she also had to discern when to administer a seemingly never-ending battery of assessments. And if she deviated from the prescribed curricular route, someone was sure to check in just as she was about to get creative with her instruction.
She claims that she wouldn’t have made it if she didn’t have the support of a wise mentor. But after three years of teaching in this environment, Nancy and her husband had an opportunity that required the family to relocate, which meant that she was no longer teaching in that district. She took the move as an opportunity to question whether teaching was for her or not.
After talking with a friend who taught at a nearby charter school, she decided to test the waters there by applying to substitute teach. After one week of covering classes at the school, Nancy was smitten! She knew she had to teach there! She saw a school that trusted its teachers, allowed them to be creative, and that teachers could adjust their curriculum and instruction to meet the various needs of their students, not the demands of a program.
As soon as she could, she filled out an application. She was eventually hired, and has been there ever since. She loves her school, and she loves teaching (now Kindergarten). She has found the school where she can be the teacher she dreamed of being while she was an undergrad.
If any of her story rings true for you, and you’re looking for some encouragement, you can reach out and find Nancy by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
QUESTION: As a new classroom teacher, what unexpected initiative, program, or practice tended to take considerable time and energy away from planning instruction for your students?
To hear more stories like Nancy’s, subscribe to the Dear Teacher, Don’t Give Up! podcast.
Ways to Connect:
Also, if you have a story to tell, about a time you considered walking away from education, I want to hear all about it. Here’s where you can find me:
- Email: email@example.com
- Twitter: @makethemmastrit
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MakeThemMasterIt/