Alright, lets set all the cards on the table:
As of this writing, I am a progressive, high school teacher quickly approaching my third year in Oklahoma. For those not familiar with the current political or educational landscape of Oklahoma, watch the first 20 minutes of Jurassic Park. Teachers here are the scientists telling those in charge, “Stop. This is wrong.” and “You were so concerned if you could you never stopped to think if you should.” shortly before the dinosaurs start eating people. This Jurassic Park analogy could really go places, but this is an education blog not a dinosaur one, so it is time to move on.
In my state, the third year is on average the final year for a high school teacher. My state is facing budgetary issues left and right, an education budget that is receiving more cuts than Julius Caesar, and a severe shortage of teachers. Yet, this is where I chose to begin my career, and these were issues in place before I was chose my path. At this point, you may (fairly) consider me an idiot, and may want to stop reading this nonsense. In any case, many of these issues are not unique to Oklahoma and can be found anywhere in the United States, and so it is my hope that any teacher in the United States could benefit from this blog.
A few reasons this site/blog is necessary:
- “Learn with me if you want to live.” – I firmly believe that there is a need for a resource, on a personal level, to support and inspire new teachers. While I am only finishing my second year, I have continuously seen new, talented teachers depart my state for greener pastures (read: more money, more respect), and more often than not the profession they dearly love altogether. Many of these new, aspiring teachers never saw the train that is the reality of education coming full throttle for them. Probably due to #2.
- “O Captain My Captain” – I also firmly believe there is a need for new teachers to be challenged. Yes, I am aware that I just wrote “support” in the first bullet point. Any experienced teacher will tell you that you can support a student while also challenging them. Many new teachers enter the field with passion, dreams of grandeur, Dead Poet’s Society quotes playing on repeat in their head. Challenging this sense of naivety is extremely important, because a perfectly passionate teacher is not the same as an efficient educator. A great teacher can be both, but this site intends to inform aspiring educators that it is not all just standing on desks and inspiring young minds. There will be days you will struggle. There will be days you doubt yourself. You will let down, disappoint, or fail your student as an educator. You are also a human being. If you cannot come to terms with the fact that you will fail people you care about, then perhaps you should reconsider your profession.
- “Education Edification” – As a teacher going into my third year, statistically in my state the odds that I will not return for a fourth year are extremely high. I am continuously improving myself, or at least attempting to. I seek out new methods, face new challenges, and on rare occasion I find a measure of success that I am satisfied with. My journey thus far is not unique, and by writing about even some of the challenges I have faced, I hope that others both inside and outside the field of education better understand the struggle for a new teacher in a new age. If I do decide to not return for my fourth year, perhaps this can act a chronicle as to why I left a profession that I have devoted so much of my time, effort, energy, and passion to.
I am not perfect and I am not a sage. I make mistakes almost every day it seems, and perhaps this blog will be another one of those mistakes. I will only consider myself at least somewhat successful if I do one of the following:
Reassure a current, new teacher that they are not alone. Their struggles can be overcome, and there are people who will help and support them.
Inform an education outsider or aspiring teacher about the realities and challenges facing teachers. Not simply at a political level but on a day-to-day basis. No university classroom will ever prepare you for the events you will have to deal with, but the real life experiences of other teachers can help support you when the time comes.
For the outsiders — those not in the field of education — this blog is for you too. Often I encounter parents, politicians, homeless people, the guy who gets my order wrong at McDonald’s, who believe they know how to do a teacher’s job better than they do, and their sole reasoning is, “I was in a classroom once upon a time.” If you are one of those people, I do not care how many times you have been in a plane as a passenger, if you try to fly the plane with no training and ignore the pilot I am getting off that plane as soon as possible. Perhaps for you, this blog can be a window into the cockpit.
Bonus Analogy: Funding for education is the fuel for the plane. Have a safe trip.