You know you heard it. You walked in the teachers lounge, and the comments were so toxic, you felt yourself choke on their words. The only person they weren't talking about is you, and that's because you were in the room. This one's mama, daddy(or lack of), level of intelligence, (or stupidity).You know what you wanted to say, you know what you should have said, but you didn't. You finished your lunch, groaned inwardly at every word, and walked out.
Shoulda, woulda, didn't.
When I started teaching, back in 1984, we had a teacher who came in drunk every.single.day. She taught Special Ed. A drunk teacher in a Special Ed classroom. They finally got rid of her by the middle of the school year. I would smile and chat with her every day, pretending that her words weren't slurred, her eyes bloodshot. I felt awful. Here I was, early 20's, thinking, what could I do? How could I change this situation?
Why do we feel as if we can't say anything? Why is it okay to let things slide, to pretend that it's okay? We don't want to create waves, but we sink anyway. We drown in our knowledge of wrong, knowing we should be doing what's right. And I don't mean something as serious as child abuse or corporal punishment. (I hope no one is remaining silent about any of those issues!)
We sit silent as our calling is stripped from us. Our voices are muted, replaced with scripted curriculum and standardized tests. We cringe every time we read from the Teacher's Edition or hand our students another test. We apologize, and yet we continue. Our silence making us accomplices to this tragedy called "reform".
It's taken me a long time to reach the point where I will not remain silent. I no longer pretend I don't know. I refuse to remain silent if I don't agree. I will speak my peace. It is difficult. We want to be liked. But if I have to choose between what's best for our kids and being liked, I am choosing my kids.
I know there are those of you who have always spoken your mind. Kudos to you! I wish I had always been like that, but I can't go back. But I can move forward, I can speak up for that student, that parent, or that colleague. I can break the code.
photo credit: Daniela Vladimirova via photopin cc