Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 05 2011


Yup, I work in that school. The one with the low scores, with the dropout rate and the attrition and the poverty… I work on that side of town. When people get killed nearby or when there’s a hit-and-run involving one of our kids, we’re in the news–but you’d be unlikely to hear that we’re the only high school to ever have two navy all-american team players, two years in a row, and when we come in first–FIRST– in attendance for the district, teachers scoff and whisper that someone must be doctoring the numbers.

Yup, it’s a hard job. Yup, there’s a lot that goes down at my school that doesn’t at other schools. It takes a lot to do it every day and to keep doing it when it feels like all there is is inefficiency and apathy and frustration.

… which is why it’s understandable that we need a little validation every once in a while. Maybe it’s not a crime to want someone to affirm us: “wow, that must be so hard,” “I don’t know how you do it,” “he said that to you?”

But it doesn’t help.

There was a major fight on Friday in the classroom next door to mine. The one with all my babies from last year–the one with the long-term sub this year. Two of my girls were getting into it, two others got involved to break them up, there was a stapler involved… no administrators came…
After school, I texted everyone I could think of and told them all the gory details.

It came at the perfect time to help me realize how much I’ve made all of this about me. I’m good or bad at teaching, I deal with this or that, I feel this or that when I get home.

My kids are just normal kids going to school, trying to make it in exactly the same way I did, just barely six years ago. The same way you did. Sensationalizing all of the upsetting or violent or scandalous things that happen there, both in conversations or on this blog, just makes all the stereotypes worse. And it’s not the whole truth. There are so many kids who show up every day, who are respectful and kind, who do all of their work and more, who never show up in the headlines.

If I could, I’d take my texts back and instead tell the whole truth. I owe the world some stories of all of the amazing kids who do the right thing.

This movement lives or dies in the stories we tell.

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    “The minute you think of giving up, think of the reason you held on so long.” - John Maxwell


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