My wife is a second-grade teacher. She returned to education eight years ago, but this is the first full-time position she has had since our first son was born. Things have changed a lot over those 22 years.
Karen is a diligent person and she is working like a dog to be the best teacher she can be. It's a challenging environment, with a fascinating mix of economic and cultural diversity. To meet the demands of her job, she gets up at 4:45am and often doesn't get home until 7:00pm. She spends her weekends grading papers, writing lesson plans, and stressing about the coming week. She thinks and talks about her job all the time. I hear all the details; the rowdy students, the demanding and absent parents, the faculty drama, the prowling presence of reviews and requirements. There are joys--she loves her "little peeps," but mostly I hear about the manifold layers of meetings, management and morass that have enveloped public education in its current form. It's overwhelming to a person whose primary skill is loving kids and making them feel good about themselves. Don't get me wrong; she can teach a great lesson on counting money or reading diphthongs, but she's not so keen on keeping up with the 127th revision of the math curriculum for seven-year-olds. Education has become so data-driven, so technology-toasted, so change-charged, that they have created an unfathomable volume of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo that would send the hardiest IRS agent to the asylum with his fingernails buried in his skull. Sometimes in her frustration she utters four-letter words. But mostly, she utters three-letter ones. Our conversation usually goes something like this. All of these acronyms are real.
ME: "Good morning, honey. What's on your agenda for today?"
KAREN: "I have a meeting this morning with the guidance counselor to discuss Jacob's BIP. It's probably because his home life is such a wreck; we just have so many FARM friends. Then I have to meet with the reading specialist to go over DeShaun's IEP. Between that and Tamara's DRA, it's going to require the entire SST to get these kids to meet their SLOs. I have to stay late today because we have a PLC to talk about the CCR and CCSS, so I don't know when I'm going to have the time to work on Henry's DRA. At least he's meeting the SMP. And Kimberly's parents think she's a rocket scientist so they want me to provide her with a personalized ELO. Truth is, she's not as good in math as Sonya, even though she's ESL. Oh, and I also have a meeting in the Learning Cottage to discuss the latest additions to the TAC. I think they are online but I lost the password. You'd think I was an ELL! Ha ha. Anyway, by Friday I have to turn in my PDP to the principal. It's the teacher version of the AYP, which is required for the CFA. I don't know how I'll do it; I guess I'll just roll the number generator. It's a good thing I'm covered by the FCTA. How about you?"
ME: "Wow. I don't know what to say. All I have to do today is PEE."
KAREN: "What's PEE?"
ME: "I just had my second cup of coffee."
She is amazing, my wife. She does all this, and somehow remains as HOT as a perfect score on the SAT.
Thanks to all teachers who navigate through the minefield of edubabble to teach our kids to read, write, and be kind to one another. You all deserve a BEER.
(No letters were harmed in the writing of this blog.)