DIFFICULT CHOICES TO MAKE – MARCH 2009

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (haroldshawjr.com)

I have some really difficult choices to make over the next few months about my future as an educator. As I discussed in my 2/12/10 blog BUDGET CUTS AND HOW IT MIGHT EFFECT ME, there is a possibility that I might be laid off after this school year, as I am the bottom of any and all seniority lists of all the teachers in my district.
When the Superintendent announced this budget shortfall in February, my wife and I reviewed our own budget and found out that since we paid off the house last year, that we are in pretty decent shape financially, not great, but not bad either. My wife’s pension along with my military retirement retainer (it is not a true retirement, I am still able to be recalled to active duty involuntarily) and medical coverage gives us a great deal more flexibility than others may have.
During the past month since that post has passed we have discussed at length what we both want in our future (long term and short term).
  • First and foremost we want to spend more time together, my wife retired last November and is enjoying it immensely, although her health is a concern at times. We both enjoy being active outdoors and like to do these kinds of things together. If we wait, with my penchant for getting injured and her health this might not be something that we will not be able to enjoy if we wait until we are both older.
  • Second I am jealous as hell of her being able to stay home while I have to go to work. Even though I love what I do during the day, my time is not my own at nights, on weekends, vacations and even during the summer break; it seems I am always doing or will be doing something to get ready for school. The joys of being a Special Education Teacher always behind on paperwork and then the duties of a classroom teacher trying to make lessons engaging for the students. We knew what it meant when I returned to teaching, but it doesn’t make the time spent on education related “stuff” and not doing other things any less.
  • Third I have to decide whether I can conform to the way standardized testing is being used to evaluate schools, possibly teachers and student and/or adherence to rigorous (please click for definition) standards based education, which I have a difficult time agreeing with. I have tried to see and put them both in as positive a light as possible, but I just can’t wrap my head around how they are going to help my teaching or my students learning and I have truly tried. I know they are or will be the law/regulation and will require me to “use” them, but I still have a difficult time fully supporting the route we are taking. The question is can I support this direction enough to stay in public education?
  • As a special educator I see what standardized testing is doing to the curriculums and how it negatively affects my students. I am not a big proponent of standards based education, it will eventually lead to a rigorous national curriculum, which may not be the best thing for all of our students. Students in special education need to be taught with methods and modes that are different than their peers and with these two requirements the freedom to do this is becoming increasingly difficult to find. Right now I am lucky where I teach, I have been given a great deal of leeway in how I attempt to teach my students, but as these two things gain more traction with those in power, I predict this will change in the future.
  • In my  TO TEACH OR WALK AWAY blog from a couple of days ago, I discuss some of the decisions that many teachers are going to have to make this year and it seems I am one of them.
I believe that if I am laid off after this school year, I will retire and enjoy life.
If I don’t get laid off that is going to be a lot tougher decision…I love what I do, I really like where I teach, my administrators have been wonderfully supportive of me and most of my peers attempt to do the right thing with the students. At the same time I want to spend as much quality time with my wife, doing the things we love to do while we still can.
So here goes the roller coaster ride for the next few months as we try to figure out what to do next.
Oh well, time to get ready for school tomorrow and see what the next few months bring.
and as always…
Have you made a difference today? How?

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