Her challenges sounded similar to mine. They may not have a district 10% rule, but when the parent bought a new wing for the school, you better expect the teacher is pressured to pass the child. And yes, the students may not being paying attention because they have options, but teaching a class full of unruly teenagers that don’t care what you say is frustrating in any settings. The worst, no matter where it is, is seeing the children we care about, invest our energy in, and work so hard to teach, go home to angry, broken, or empty homes. Obviously I am generalizing about our experiences. We both have families and students that care and are dedicated to their learning, but unfortunately they are not the norm in either of our cases. The difference though, is that no matter how damaged her students may be, they will go on to college and then become doctors, lawyers, or business owners. My students have to fight, and fight, and fight to make it there.
No matter where you are though, in the east coast, in the south, or anywhere else, teachers are more than just educators. We are mentors, we are parents some days, and we are sideline supporters other days. Many students need more than what they get at home and it is up to us to provide them that. There is no perfect school to be at. There is no perfect student to have. We have to work with what we get, we have to be patient to make change, but really we can’t give up. Just as I saw this fellow teacher’s cold, hopeless eyes, our kids see it to. Waiting to prey on their next victim, waiting to push us to our limit, when all they really want is someone who listens and someone who expects more from them. Every teacher, in every school, in every city has challenges. Complaining about it will not solve it, doing something can. So yes we teach in very different settings but our jobs will always be the same, support students learning.