Entering her 10th year in teaching this fall, Junior High School Teacher is starting to think about the future—i.e., does she see herself being a teacher for the next 10 years? On the pro side, she views teaching as “the most important contribution I’ve made so far in my life. … I’ve made a difference as a teacher.”
But there’s a major con: She feels she’s being worn down by the “political climate of teaching”—which, for her, primarily takes the form of mandated, one-size-fits all curricula:
Last year I threw out almost every thing I'd ever created to teach from [a prescribed textbook]. I kept to the schedule, even when it made no sense. I spent at least one class period a week on spelling, because that's the area administration decided upon which we would focus. More than halfway through the year, the English chair decided we would adopt the Sheri Henderson way of teaching writing, and we had no say in that decision. So, yet again, I threw out something (this time, something not even well-tried) for the newest "solution."
She goes on to lament the trend toward uniformity in education:
I think most people, at least most thinking people, agree that giving everyone the exact same education is not giving everyone a fair education, yet that's what's happening. This crap about being on the same page on the same day in every eighth grade classroom in the district is actually being given consideration.
One thing’s for sure: It would be a shame if politics and the associated top-down mandates drove a veteran teacher like JHS (and who knows how many others?) out of the profession she loves.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.