Saturday, July 23, 2011

Planning for change

From the start, this has been the most frightening thing about teaching to me. Not the possibility of weapons or gangs on campus, not learning to deal with violent or serious behaviors (that comes a close second though), not even the fact that I might be pink slipped at any time.

I'm scared of quitting. More specifically, I'm scared of being backed into a corner, like the teacher in the CNN interview, and having no better option than to quit.

Quitting any job isn't a simple decision, although people water down their explanations so that they sound much more sane to their family and friends:

"I want to travel and spend more time with my family."

"I'm not working at my fullest potential."

"I've hit a pay wall."

"I'm just being shuffled from side to side in the company."

All really logical and proper and socially acceptable reasons to quit. But I really believe that underneath the soothing words are much more complicated things happening.

Of course, once again, I am astounded at how lucky I am that I got the position I have today. According to my district's salary schedule, I won't hit a pay wall until my 17th year. I started out at a significantly higher salary than the teacher in the CNN interview. As I accrue units and finally complete my masters, I'll have additional stipends. There is even a stipend schedule for Ph.D..

I am also young, healthy, and single: no kids, no car payments, no mortgage payments, no serious medical expenses. I don't even have credit card balances or student loan debt. Bureaucratic interference is easy to ignore. My district office does have some rather incompetent people, but it's saved by the genius who created and installed the system years ago. Morale is medium to high at my school, for the most part. Yeah, there are certain lack of resources that plague me but I've found creative ways to get around it. My principal has been nothing but supportive of me. The compensation isn't spectacular, but it's also not horrendous either. Too-little decision making, frankly I don't think I want to make any of the big, nasty decisions - let me stick with the small ones that are of no matter on paper. Too little time for planning...fake it 'till you make it - lost count of how many times I've flown with no lesson plan, or had to scrap plans and completely wing it. Accountability pressures...sure, I feel the CST pain, but once again I'm lucky to be at a school that has (yet) to be touched by PI status. My team that I work with is awesome. Weird of course, and sometimes we grate on each other socially, but I know they are good teachers and they trust that I aim for excellence as well.

So by any standard, I've been lucky. Yet, the fear lingers. All of that luck can change instantaneously. Expect change. Plan for it. Be prepared.

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