Emily Latella: “What’s all this I hear about indentured teachers in our schools. Teachers who have been bound up by tradition, tied to their old, tired methods, enslaved by mediocrity, and chained to their past? Teachers who fail to recognize or hail their new masters? Teachers too set in their ways to really teach and too old to care? I thought that indentured service was no longer permitted in this country. What’s happening in our schools?”
Jane Curtain: “Excuse me, Miss Latella, that’s tenured teachers–not, indentured teachers. Tenured teachers are teachers who have been teaching for a while–veteran teachers–as opposed to new and more inexperienced teachers.
Emily: “Oh. Oh, I see–tenured teachers, not indentured teachers, who are struggling to break free. I see. Why, thank you, Jane. Thank you for explaining this to me.”
Jane: “That’s all right, Miss Latella–it’s easy to get confused with all of this talk about education reform.”
Emily: (quietly) “B****.”
Yeah, it is a b****.
As a veteran teacher, with 38 years of teaching experience, I guess that I may seem over-the-hill and way past my prime to some. Older teachers, like other older workers, have been catching a lot of flak lately about hanging around too long; weighing down progress and holding back the education reform movement; taking up valuable teaching positions, rather than moving out of the way for the newer, brighter, more enthusiastic crowd of people willing to give teaching the old college try.
Well,… Pth-th-th-th-th-th-tht… to that. There are many reasons why I and my veteran colleagues still find ourselves in the classroom these days. Here are a few of my reasons to stay in the classroom:
- the fabulous salary,
- the lengthy, relaxed three-milk carton lunches
- the joy of having one’s authority challenged again and again by an eleven-year old
- 7th grade lunch duty–only surpassed by 8th grade duty
- my love of whack-a-mole classroom games
- being regularly tag-teamed by Henry and Jose
- traversing a filled-to-capacity middle school hallway in between classes
- morning announcements
- spending my own money on school supplies
- June, July, and August
As a reality check, there are a few reasons why I choose to go to school every day: my students; my still sharp teaching skills and abilities; my commitment to my school and local community; my interest in and advocacy for my teaching colleagues; and the sheer pleasure I find in crafting a really good, effective, focused lesson that engages my kids and keeps them learning.
Like the one I pulled off today.
Does experience count?