Okay, I really don't like to use this forum to talk about how depressed I am, but..... I'm depressed. Our new principal told me today that I can't do NANOWRIMO with my kids this year because it's not going to help raise our school test scores. "You don't have time to write novels. You have too much real work to do."
NANOWRIMO was the best thing I've ever ever done with kids. November 2005 was the best time I've ever spent with kids. It was the hardest I've ever seen kids work, the proudest I've ever seen them be of themselves, the most engaged, the most excited to do schoolwork.... they actually took their novels home and worked on them over the weekends, over Thanksgiving! It was amazing. I've been clinging to the memories of that month, thinking that even one month of that every year would make this job worth it.
I'm just -- why am I teaching? Cam said, "To change the world, remember?" I said, "Oh really? Because all I hear about is changing test scores, and the link between raising test scores and making the world better seems pretty abstract." (Cam: "Hey, if it's good enough for George W, it's good enough for me!" But then, he hasn't been subjected to constant test-score-raising talk and inservicing for the last two years.)
Teaching -- this kind of teaching, at least -- is stupid. Two days back and I already want to quit my job. super.
Over lunch today, the department head said casually, "So... how do you feel about 'cutting back on the creativity'?"
I said, "I went home depressed."
"Yes, I was thinking about you. I figured."
I said, "I was really depressed. I went home and called my teacher friends, looking for someone to tell me why this was a good idea."
She said, "I'm just going to fly low until I can retire."
The good news is that a bunch of my 9th grade girls have come back to visit, and reminded me how much I like kids. Also, this morning when I had to lead my homeroom group around on an hour-long scavenger hunt, I named them "Team Awesome," and they instantly became a community. Very cute. They ran around telling everyone, "We're Team Awesome! And we ARE!"
I wasn't excited about school starting until... yesterday. Maybe today. Team Awesome helped me, and then today my 7th graders have been so quiet and have actually listened to me, and even LAUGHED AT MY JOKES, which makes me nicer and funnier than usual. I came into this year with such a big chip on my shoulder, and my little "sevvies" are and will be in the honeymoon period for the first few weeks, at least. So that's really nice.
On the other hand, my 8th graders are annoying! But I still like most of them. It's not their fault they're hormonally challenged.
Me: I just want to remind you of the rules: No bleeding on my furniture, no throwing up in my room, and no stinky kids! Take showers often, use deoderant, and do NOT spray that AXE stuff around me. Gross!
Jack: Just wait, Ms. Backes, you'll have a whole line of kids spraying axe outside your room!
Me: No I won't, because people like me.
Jack: Like who?
Me: Everyone but you, Gomez!
Today I walked past the department head's room and heard her going through a list of essay questions I developed and am doing with my own students. It made me feel a little bit like a rock star.... or at least like a real teacher.