What would you do (as a teacher) if you weren't afraid?
Fear keeps me from practicing total honesty in my classroom. If I could get away with it I wouldn't censor myself at the risk of receiving a parent phone call or a visit to the principal's office. This would mainly come into play when discussions of a sensitive political or religious nature come up. I've been scolded before for sharing my belief in equal rights for homosexual couples, defending my agnosticism, or even supporting feminist ideals in the small (and highly conservative) community I teach in. I've never mentioned any of these things to be "preachy" or to persuade kids, and only bring them up when asked by students for my opinion, but the fear of repercussions makes me wary of sharing my beliefs when the situations arise. It makes me feel like a hypocrite for censoring myself. I teach my students to share and defend their arguments while respecting others, yet I'm afraid to model this myself. I'm not being paranoid or overly dramatic about this; I live in a district where parents have been known to plant themselves in classrooms to "catch" teachers who are inappropriately "spreading lies" (as one colleague who was teaching about global warming found out a few years ago).
I would get rid of grades in my class if I wasn't afraid. I would never assign a letter or a number to a piece of writing, and instead of having students who wrote for a grade, I'd have kids who write for any other reason. I think they'd be better writers, because they'd be less afraid, too. I wouldn't have students, then; I'd have a community of writers.
Fear makes me continue to pass out the standardized test sheets and booklets every year, even though I know they have nothing to do with my class, my skill as a teacher, or my students' knowledge. If I had no fear of being fired, I would boycott the tests and have my students compete to fill out the prettiest design of penciled-in bubbles. I'd have them write real questions that matter and send them in to test companies, to show them what kids are really capable of.
If I wasn't afraid, I would stand up and scream every time another teacher made a personal judgment about a kid or his family, pretending like gossip matters. I would slap myself every time I got caught up in it (I'm not innocent) and I wouldn't allow myself to keep filling the bystander role.
If I wasn't afraid, I'd be a teacher who could always follow my values, ideals, and heart instead of following rules.
(This is it. The final day. I've made it through all thirty blog prompts. I'm still a little stunned that I had the audacity to start a blog from scratch just to prove to myself that I could do it for a thirty day stretch. I didn't think beyond that, since I'm a goal-oriented person, but now I'm used to it. I want to keep blogging about teaching, even though I know I won't have the energy or desire to publish something every single day. Thank you to everyone who has read this over the past month. I hope you keep checking in to see what I'm up to, and I hope I am able to keep creating posts worth reading, without the prompts to nudge me in certain directions.)
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.