As the picture shows, I created this list in 2005. What was happening in 2005?
I was in my 2nd year of teach self contained 5th grade in a rough low income school. That year, I was our 5th grade team leader of 2 other 5th grade teachers. One teacher had a similar teaching style as mine, the other was a traditional drill and kill teacher. She was having 'success' and two of us were not - as evidenced by the large posted charts of scores on district benchmark tests. At one point I had a 0% passing rate on the science test two administrations in a row.
All 3 classrooms were crammed full. I think I had 28 or 19 on the 1st day of school. This was also the height of Texas's Student Success Initiative that held back 5th graders who did not pass 'the test'. I had at least 3 (I think it was 5 but I can think of 3 names) repeaters and 1 student who had never passed but had been promoted via committee. Of the remaining students, only 1 was NOT a bubble kid. Here we were crammed into a room, trying to fill in gaps, learn in active ways and I did not look like any of my students.
Many of my kids ran the show at home either because their parents worked at night or because their parents abdicated control to them. Then they came to a crowded, noisy room and were 'bossed' around by a white women.
I could write for days about those 2 years in 5th grade. I'll sum it up by saying that I knew I wasn't getting it right for those kids. I tried to compensate by loving them fiercely. But I knew I was failing and I felt very little power to change things for either them or me.
When people feel powerless, they begin to fantasize what would happen if they had the power they long for. That's what my list was...a fantasy of how I could help those kids.
Fast forward 9 years. Now I'm back at middle school. I left middle school to teach 5th grade against the advice of a trusted principal. I now know that was part of the issue. I'm not an elementary school teacher. I work best with middle schoolers. I am now a mom of an autistic son, a deep thinking son, and a dsylexic son. I've read and learned so much more on the art and practice of teaching. But, there's not much I'd change about my list. I would, of course, add to it. Overall, it's still how I'd like to work and how I'd like my boys to learn.
The question that I've asked myself the past few days is - Why not? Why haven't you done this? Start a school!
I'll be honest - fear. Oh, I have a million reasons and excuses...
- I don't understand a lot about the law and beauracacy of schools.
- I'm not administrator/principal certified.
- I'm not in a position to walk away from my salary (or to be more specific, my health insurance).
- My boys require a lot of time and energy. I choose to channel my energy to them.
These things are all true, they are all excuses and they all speak to my fear. To be honest, I don't know what to do about my fears or my ideas. All I know to do it to keep having ideas, keep wrestling with big and little ideas, keep reflecting, keep making changes to my own classrooms, keep being the momma I want to be and keep sharing.