I’ve been gone for quite a long time. Some of it was an intentional absence—time to settle in after the move and enjoy a bit of summer in our new home. But the remainder was unplanned. Once school started back, there were many times I tried to force myself back into the habit of research and writing, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. What would be the point, I’d think, and then set my things aside. What was the problem, you might be asking. The truth? I had come face to face with my own naivety and found it to be an ugly thing.
I didn’t just think or believe that moving halfway across the United States would be a spark of change, would quake my earth in such a way as to leave the path of my entire life redirected toward brighter horizons, I knew. But the reality fell short of the dream, or at least so it has felt for a while. Now, though, I’m beginning to believe (hope, maybe) that it still may be true—just not in a way I had anticipated originally, nor in a way I likely would have chosen for myself.
What was most problematic about my preconceived notions about life here was my belief that where I was in West Virginia was so bad things could only be better elsewhere. What I’ve learned is that the same problems I was grappling with in education in West Virginia are present here, as well. In fact, I found them to be magnified. And buried beneath a slew of other issues I hadn’t encountered before. Some of these issues I will take up in future blogs, as they necessitate a discussion in their own right—the effects of mastery learning in the school I am currently teaching at, the lack of support for such a high population of English Language Learners, and the ineptitude of administration, to name a few.
Needless to say, it has been an adjustment…a phase in which I still find myself. I lost so much from my salary that, as an eight-year teacher, I am making now what I made my first year of teaching. I spent the entire summer preparing material for the “College Prep” courses I would be teaching, which I was lead to believe were the equivalent of the 101 courses I am used to teaching, only to find out the week before school started that it was really the class they lump the lowest level ability students into. So I began the year further behind than I ever have, entirely unprepared for the group of students who would walk into my room that first day.
I do not want to approach this as though I am airing grievances, though; that’s not really what it’s about. It’s about a broken system and my deep frustrations with my own inability to change it. I feel myself leaving the classroom a little more each day. In fact, I think that’s exactly the direction I am intended to travel; that’s where my path has settled (is settling) after the quake. But more on that some other time.