My alarm went off at 6:00am. I stayed in bed until 6:20 which is way too late but I have found it extremely difficult to get up lately. Max has been getting into bed with us around 5:30 each morning and any extra snuggle time with him is hard to give up. I got ready and out of the door by 7:05 (pretty impressive, I know). I am fortunate to have a true partner in my life. One who will step up to whatever role he is needed for. One who will make my lunch in the morning and who will get Max ready for daycare. I am not spoiled. I am good to him and he is good to me.
I arrived at school at 7:20. First period began at 7:30. I taught a class of 16 students. Then a class of 24. During this time, I was observed by my building principal for the new Massachusetts Teacher Evaluation process that went into effect this year. Then I taught a class of 30. I had 20 minutes for lunch. Then I had a 65 minute prep. During my prep, I emailed all of my students their homework. I responded to emails from students who were absent (only 2 today). Next I made up my plans for tomorrow, including sub plans for my first 2 classes of the day since I will not be in class. Instead, I will be correcting final exams for a colleague and dear friend who is out on medical leave for 8 weeks. Then I taught a class of 14. School ended at 1:55. At 2:00, three students came for an after-school class since they are unable to fit my class into their daily schedule. They have agreed to meet with me after school a minimum of once a week so I can teach them then. They left at 2:30. Then I lesson planned until a budget meeting at 3:30.
The next hour and fifteen minutes, I sat and listened to our Superintendent tell us that we have a 1.6 million dollar deficit going into next year. That we are most likely going to see a reduction of over 30 staff members. That we may be asked to freeze our wages. That we may have to dissolve stipends. That health care costs are going up. That unless we are in positions that are considered legally and contractually mandated, we may lose our jobs.
At 5:15pm, I returned home to see Max and Damien. We had dinner and I filled Damien in on my day. I played cars with Max for 15 minutes. At 6:15 Max cried as I put on my coat to head out the door again to go back to work for my Student Council meeting. Then I felt my mom guilt. I got to school at 6:30pm and spent 10 minutes trying to help an Adult Education class get into the space that they needed for their dance class. At 6:45, our meeting began, with 30 or so students. The meeting lasted 45 minutes. At 7:30, we had our Eboard meeting with 6 students. At 8:00 when the meeting ended, I sat with my co-advisor and 2 students to plan a workshop that they will be doing at an upcoming conference in April. At 8:15pm, I drove one of those 2 students home since she lives down the street from me and it is easier for her mom if I do so. At 8:30pm, I returned home for the night. Max was in bed, but lucky for me, hadn't fallen asleep yet. I went to his room, picked him up from his crib and sang him his lullaby, Hush Little Baby. At 8:45, I kissed him goodnight.
All in all, I worked for twelve hours today. I saw my son and husband for two.
This was my today as a teacher. Every day does not include a budget meeting. A Student Council meeting. Most days I am home by 5:00pm. But my work doesn't end then. It doesn't end on the weekends either. Or over April break. I come home with work. I go back to school with work. I plan, I teach, I correct, I advise, I listen, I laugh, I cry. And I do it all for them.
I chose the career that I did because I wanted to serve my community. I never wanted to be rich. And I never will be. My salary is decent but it is by no means lavish. And it never will be. I work hard and no matter what is thrown at me, I try my best. On days like today, however, it is hard not to feel beaten down. To feel that no matter how hard I try, no matter how many hours I put in, that there will always be obstacles that are bigger than me. There will always be budget cuts. Jobs lost. Friends and colleagues let go. No amount of planning, teaching, correcting, advising, listening, laughing or crying can keep it from happening.
I chose this career and I am so fortunate that I did. I have surrounded myself with amazing and talented people who constantly give of themselves. I have surrounded myself with amazing and talented people who are the future of our world. On a night like tonight, my only hope is that someday others will realize this and start to believe in our students and our teachers once again.