Friday, September 12, 2008

Thinking back

Twenty six years is a long time for any type of employment. But back then people chose a career, today they get a job. Thinking about retiring naturally makes a person look back over the years and ask, "Is it still worth it?"
In his first year he'd drive up in his white sports car, wearing a white windbreaker with blue racing stripes on the side, blue jeans, running shoes and dash from the parking lot to the classroom. He was slim, trim and could still pass for a high school student. His only child was still in diapers and with his wife they were looking into buying their first house. The American dream in action.
 Now he's much slower due to arthritis in his hands and knees. He walks on the golf course for exercise instead of running around a track, playing on the basketball or tennis court. The hair is gray, not very trim anymore either, the step is much slower. He drives an old beat up pick-up truck and the wife drives the sports car, but most of the time he walks to work only a few blocks from home and instead of two cars to make payments on and keep up there's now four. It's the second house they've owned, mortgaged and re-mortgaged over the years to keep up with inflation and the demands of two children and now two grandchildren. No empty nest yet, the kids are still living at home and are finding it hard to become independent.
When looking at retirement the number of years are there, but is the money there? The answer to this is as with most questions: yes and no. Yes he could retire, but he'd have to find another job for at least ten years, and though it doesn't have to be as well paying as teaching, would he want to work at anything other that what he's been doing for so long?
Then there are the hassles of teaching. Staff meetings, training sessions, required courses some politician felt all teachers should have in order to keep teaching, over crowded classes, a new program directive every year: Baldridge, UNRAAVEL, Whole Language, Phonics Education, and testing testing testing. Add to that the constant changing in schedules: Regular 6 period schedule, Modified 7 period schedule, 4X4 block schedule, Regular flex block schedule, AB block schedule. Is any administrator capable of making up their fucking mind(s) on what the duty day will be?
Over the years he had been track and golf coach, department chair, member of the school governing council and then rediscovered the joys of the classroom without all the distractions. Now everyone has to belong to a pathway team and every week half of your prep period you have to meet with your team partners to come up with a PDSA, Standards, EPSS, blah blah blah. More politician mandated bullshit to keep teachers from being able to adequately prepare lessons, grade papers and teach. There are days when you'd rather be a greeter at Wal-Mart.
Then there are the students. Twenty six years ago in regular classes most of the students could read at a minimum of seventh grade level by the time they were sophomores. Special Ed handled the students below that level, now with mainstreaming and inclusion only the AP teachers get kids that can read, listen for more than five minutes without going to sleep, and understand what they read or heard. Just as the students hit the regular classroom with the least attention span is when everyone jumps on the bandwagon to lengthen class time to ninety minutes or two hours.
Still kids are kids, they hit the classroom the same age every year. When all is said and done there is nothing he wants or enjoys doing more than teaching.

No comments: