bad teacher

I’m bad.

Bad at pretending that my kindergarteners’ issues don’t matter.

Bad at pretending that their test scores do matter.

Bad at distancing myself from my kids.

Bad at distancing myself from their families.

Bad at separating my school life from my home life.

Bad at keeping my opinions to myself.

Bad at ignoring solid research and best practices.

Bad at preventing my eyes from rolling during professional development sessions and meetings.

Bad at believing that I can eliminate the effects of poverty by teaching “better.”

Bad at following a developmentally inappropriate curriculum designed by non-teachers.

Bad at believing that teachers are bad no matter what the media, the government or our administrators tell me.

I’m bad at all those things.

But I’m a really good teacher.

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reader

Late with entry 2 in the #kinderchat blog challenge.

Prompt: The story of you, as a reader. Who are you, as a reader? When and how did you learn to read? Did you love it right away? Did you have to learn to love it? Do you still  NOT love it? What is the story of your story with stories?

My childhood is a dim, distant memory, but I remember the exciting day that I was finally able to print my own name. That moment meant that I was able to sign up for my library card. I remember carefully writing my name on the form and having the librarian give me my card. It was a treasure. The key to the universe. It wasn’t the beginning of my reading life because my parents had instilled a love of books in me from a very early age, but it was the tipping point.

My dad read to us all the time. News stories at the breakfast or dinner table. Sherlock Holmes and Shakespeare in the evenings. Both my parents read constantly. Not quite as constantly as me, but they did have important grown up work that interrupted their reading lives.

When I was 8 years old, I had a goal. I wanted to read every single book in the children’s room.

That room was the most magical place in the world.

It held horse books by Marguerite Henry. Books about kids just like me by Beverly Cleary. Classics. Myths. Biographies. Andrew Lang’s colored fairy books.

I read every spare minute. I’d read while doing chores, hiding under a bush in my backyard, during school with a book tucked inside a textbook. I read while I walked to school. I swear that I knew the exact number of steps I had to take to get to the next curb. I barely looked up – walking and reading block to block to block.

I read in bed, a flashlight revealing to my mom or dad that I was once again defying my bedtime. They were never happy with my choice, but I know they understood because they are the reason that my sisters and I are all avid readers.

When I had my own kids, I was excited to share old favorites and new ones with them. Henry Huggins and Ramona were reunited with me. I can still hear my 4 year old son’s voice in my head as he read The Bears’ Picnic by Stan and Jan Berenstain. “Mother Bear, put your apron away. We’re going to go on a picnic today!” reprimanding his little sister, “Rachel! Stop bothering me!!”

That little sister grew up to be my reading companion. We share many of the same favorites. I remember when she was reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series for the first of MANY times and I said, “When you get to a certain part, you’ll need to talk to me, but you won’t be able to talk. Just call me and I’ll know.” One night, the phone rang, and I heard uncontrollable weeping on the other end. “I know, honey. I know. Just cry,” I told her. You can’t comfort when a beloved character is going through tragedy. You can only be there, understanding.

My youngest daughter grew up in a different generation. I read Harry Potter to her a year before the rest of the nation caught onto the magnificence of the first book in the series. She aged along with Harry. We spent wonderful, unforgettable times at midnight release parties at Barnes and Noble. We would purchase two copies of each book and while I drove home, she would start reading to me. Upon arriving, we’d curl up in our reading spaces and read non-stop until completion, stopping to comment or cry or cheer.

Now that my children are grown, we still share books and recommendations. My mom still gives me reading tips and I share books with her, too.

I never fulfilled my wish to read my way around that children’s room, but I’m lucky enough to have a job that gives me an excuse to read books all day long. Elephant and Piggie sit next to Ferdinand. New friends and old friends.

Who am I as a reader? I’m a kid at heart. Peter Pan. Ramona. Pippi. Newt.


Who am I?

Kinderchat threw down a blogging challenge and it is a tough one.

Tell us YOUR story. Who are you when you’re not “Teacher”? If you had to describe yourself and your life WITHOUT talking about your job, what would you say?

Yikes.

This post could be blank. My life is overwhelmed by school. I spend most of my week in the school building and many of my outside hours working on lessons, doing research and talking to colleagues on and offline. I think about school all the time. I drive my family crazy with stories about my students.

I suppose I should dig deep and push past the shell. At the risk of waxing philosophical, that’s probably the key to who I am.

I am compassionate. I care about issues and troubles in the world. (And most of those issues are education-related).

I am a deep thinker and I try to come to my own conclusions when I formulate an opinion on any topic. (And most of those topics are education-related).

I am a reader. Wait a minute. That’s not philosophical and at least half of what I read is educa… you know the rest.

I’m… dang. It all comes back to teaching because that is the essence of who I am.

I know who I’m not.

I’m not a great housekeeper.

I’m not a chef or even an exceptional home-cook.

I’m not a knitter any more.

I’m not a librarian, which was what I thought I wanted to be for the first 45 years of my life.

I’m not a perfect wife or a perfect person for that matter.

I’m not mechanically inclined.

I’m not organized.

Oh, wait! I know!

I’m an old woman, who thinks she’s 30 or 40 years younger than she really is because I’m a gamer. Just sit me on my couch and let me slash away my frustrations. Thank you, Link and Zelda, for getting me through difficult days. Thank you to my Animal Crossing family for letting me play peacefully in my happy little town.

Honestly, when you take away the teacher part of me, I’m not fully me at all. It’s not my shell. It’s my core. Without my teacher-me, I’m me with a hole in my heart where the teach-y stuff lived.

And let’s hit the last part of the challenge: “WITHOUT talking about your job.”

It’s not a job. And it’s corny to call it a calling (double use of the word call = intentional).

It is my essence. I can’t talk about my life without acknowledging my essence.

I’m me. Teacher. Mother. Wife. Philosopher. Reader. Gamer. In random order.