Sunday, December 30, 2018

I'm Here

That was the response, by one of my colleagues, when I asked, "How are you?" That makes me sad. She's not the only one, though. Sometimes, I get responses like, "Living the dream." This is even more depressing, because you're not only saying things suck, but you're ridiculing the possibility they may not. A few weeks ago, someone handed me a pamphlet when I was entering the DA. I asked, "How are you?" and the guy said, "I'm alive." "That's a low bar," I said.

We really have to take a look at that. I don't know exactly what's wrong with me, but I'm generally unable to see things like that. I mean, Donald Trump is the frigging President of the United States, and it's hard for me to think of anything more depressing than that. The day I found out, I dressed in black head to toe and forgot to go to the Delegate Assembly. I couldn't focus at all.

Now I'm excited about dumping him, sending him home, to prison,or whatever. I'm glad to see people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez alive and speaking truth to mealy-mouthed moderation. I'm thrilled the GOP hacks hate her so much, and go out of their way to ridicule her for her radical ideas, like health care for all, a living wage for Americans, and affordable college.

Things are tougher here in NYC. Sometimes I know exactly why people give me answers like those. Something happened, something didn't happen, something may or may not happen, and people take things to heart. Other times it's more disturbing. For me, there are few things so upsetting as having a teacher 30 years younger than I am tell me how lucky I am because I can retire. I think how lucky they are to be 30 years younger than I am. I wonder, though, whether I felt the same way 30 years ago.

It's hard to bring good news to working teachers. It's hard to inspire or rekindle hope. My building is generally okay, since two of the worst administrators I've ever encountered have moved on to torture people elsewhere. Yet all over the city there are lunatics in charge of working people, frequently because they've moved up. This teaching job is so hard that they couldn't wait to get out of the classroom, and now their subordinates hate them just as much as their students ever did. You can't win. You go to another place, but if your problem is yourself, it just tags along for the ride.

We have a new feature in the contract designed to target abusive and insane administrators, but it hasn't been tested yet. I certainly hope it proves effective. I think that would lessen the unsatisfactory responses to, "How are you?" But only time will tell. A lot of us are frightened to act, and that's an issue too.  I used to be like that. I used to worry that people would find out who wrote this blog. Now I don't care.

Maybe it's because I have enough time in that if someone were to come after me, the very worst thing to happen would be getting forced into retirement. I don't know. I just don't ever remember being so down that I'd say, "I'm here," when asked how I was.

I'm cheered by fewer observations. I know that isn't enough. In a country where teachers are perpetual scapegoats, nothing will ever be enough. It's kind of on us to stand up to this. I'm up for it, but I understand a lot of people are not. Some teachers feel this is a profession where you get to keep your head down and be quiet. I don't understand exactly how you interact with large groups of kids like that. I can't do it.

But I want us to be better than here. We need to tell our students we are more than here. We need to tell our country we are more than here. We need to not only be here. We need to be vocal and active. We need to stand up and defend our profession, and work to make it better. It's on us to make a better world for our children and students.

We start by getting our own house in order. That's not remotely easy. But it's essential.
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