Remember that Wish List? In fine, faded green marker is a note about high school certification. Every year there are a handful of students who wish that I was moving up to the high school with them. (To be fair, there are a few who wish to never see me again, but that is a story for another day.) I researched as best I could, having this on my perpetual to-do list, and asked those who would know how would I go about this.
Even this particular odyssey is not without bumps in the bricks. I contacted the OSPI (Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction), and they weren’t quite sure if my National Board’s would grant me access. After filling out paperwork, making phone calls, and getting misinformation from my Human Resources department (which took the wind out of my house, so to speak), I finally contacted the genius bureaucrat on Friday afternoon. You heard me. Genius. Someone so sharp, so confidently concrete/sequential, not only in minutes did she find my lost application (that was from a previous phone call), she answered my question clearly and succinctly (yes, you will be granted 5-12 grades ELA, and “…we haven’t put ‘age’ on the certificates since 2011: who told you that?”)
Do you theme or label your year? I do. Of course I do. I’m a language arts teacher, the Queen of Metaphor-topia, and ruling Duchess of Diphthongs. This year’s theme is ‘kink in the hose.’ Everything was running smoothly and clearly, and then it went sideways. I have been marveling at how incredibly hopeful and peaceful I felt for the first months of this year. At year nine, I’m by no means a rookie, and felt that we had weathered enough change that no tornado or twister could possibly spin me out. My PLC is rich with talent and colleagues not only do I admire and seek, but creative, ingenious folk. Sure, administration was mostly new, but what could go wrong? District made decisions to shuffle personnel, and I had always worked collaboratively with administration at every level to support discipline, etc. We have the new teacher evaluation system, but I had received thorough training, and was a teacher-leader with my principal the first year’s roll out, serving in a collegial role to work out the wrinkles in the new and intense system. My plan was to refine, polish, and carry the strengths of instruction and throw away the unworkable.
So what went wrong? Flying monkeys? Buckets of water? Apple-throwing apple trees? Well, it doesn’t really matter. I can point to a few specific incidents, but again, it doesn’t really matter. Once in awhile there’s just that perfect storm of clashing agendas and miscommunications. And until the house lands on that witch, there’s not much that can do about it. A lot of my colleagues are ready to move on. They too, are seeking employment elsewhere, or perhaps pursuing a life goal. I am not in a position financially, nor professionally, where I can go do something…else. Many are crossing thresholds into unchartered lands, or healing wounds, or packing up the difficulties and calling it done. And they are not quiet about it, either.
Things don’t always work out as planned, and the reasons are as varied as the people involved. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if folks came into a new job and had to be honest? What if I went to a new school and told students and colleagues the truth about me? The truth that I love what I do, I am interested in new ideas, but oftentimes I like to craft and refine my own instruction. I have introverted tendencies. I have a lot to offer in terms of vision and collegial support/conversation, but will fight back if attacked. If I think your bias toward my abstract/concrete random personality is overwhelming your good judgment, I might just call you on it (unless you are a genius bureaucrat).
So let me end with this wish, this hope: no matter where we take our talents and expertise, we are more powerful than we sometimes believe. Don’t be bullied by those who would plasticize your dreams. Everyone has a desire, and sometimes just asking, “What do you want?” is enough to calm egos. I’m not sure if I am going anywhere physically, but I do know I’ve moved on emotionally. I am proud of myself for always finding ways to find my way home, of giving myself options. Here are your shoes back, W.W. I can find my way from here.