Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 11

What is worse, the deception that everything is going just fine and then being fired or knowing you are going to be fired before hand?

Whoa, whoa, whoa, before you get all worked up thinking I was fired... I wasn't.

But one of my dear friends at my school was.

Let's back up a month or two to paint the picture of a sad moment for me and a group of students who deserve a teacher like Shanna.

When I first started our professional development in July, everything on the outside looked wonderful. We basically "kumbuyad" to the point where we became a tight-knit group, especially the fourth grade team. It was Gretchen, Joanna and myself at the GVR location and Shanna, Hannah and Heather at the OAK location. As time passed, it was clear, Gretchen, Shanna, Hannah and myself were bonding. We weren't drinking the Kool-aide (often refers to the crazies at our school, who love it and think there is nothing wrong with our school environment). We were able to laugh at our crazy life. We had all thought this school was going to be an amazing place to work. Boy were we wrong.

Unfortunately, with each passing week, another staff member would leave. The first to go was Joanna, one of the fourth grade teachers, then it was Lisa, Karen... the list goes on.

But when Gretchen came to me and told me she was quiting, I was devastated. My friend, my confidant, was leaving. I managed to pep talk myself in to thinking everything was going to be OK.

I still had Shanna and Hannah, even though they were at OAK, I still had them.

Fast forward two weeks, I send Shanna an email, telling her that, I am so excited to see her for our weekly professional development.

But 10 minutes before our PD  is set to start, I receive a phone call from Shanna, "Kate please come outside, I need to speak to you. I am no longer allowed on school property".


I fly down the stairs and bolt out the front door.

I was met with Shanna's ever strong smile, but tears in her eyes. I knew, at that moment, I had lost another teaching partner. 

I cannot explain the dirty details of why she was fired, but basically we are asked to fit into these pretty boxes, where from the outside our teaching looks perfect because the walls look perfect. I will tell you the best thing about teaching, is not fitting into a perfect box. Teaching is messy. Kids are messy and you can't expert it to be perfect. This is especially true in the kind of neighborhood we teach in, where parents are in jail or selling drugs, or there are no parents just grandparents and brothers are in gangs or in a detention center, you know the list of a messy life.

Shanna is an amazing teacher. She was the teacher who took the messy lives of these kids, put them to the side and actually taught them something. She went above and beyond to help her students and at the end of the day because her room wasn't perfect, she lost her job.

Day 11: Help a friend who was fired, realize she is better than the "We look perfect on the outside" school.

Shots in honor of Shanna
Thank you to Shanna who reminded me that teaching is messy, kids are messy. But it is not about if your room looks perfect from the outside, it is about the students actually learning.

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