The Soul Sucking Misery of Professional Development Day at a Failing School District

So. Remember that video about privilege that was on Facebook? You know, the one that had the kids taking steps #bagginfoaf based on their answers to privilege questions.

Yeah, so. Our district put us on the bus and took us to our big meeting spot to do this activity as a precursor to fussing us out about allllll the things we ain’t doing right while preaching to us about how it’s not anybody’s fault but ours that these kids are failing because we don’t believe in ourselves or them or teach with intentionality or build relationships and we should be like Nehemiah on the wall and internal enemies and external enemies and whatnot.

Then we had to walk to breakout sessions where we actually watched the actual video that they based the actual activity off of.

Bruh. 🙄 There’s layers to the use of propaganda. Then there’s levels.

HOWSOINEVER: You cannot talk to me about Nehemiah without talking about leadership. Nehemiah wasn’t standing around telling folks how they needed to do more better. He had a plan. He built with the people. He strategized. He took up swords. He made corrections.

What does it say about the state of education when teachers are growing kids in spite of districts not holding nonteaching staff accountable for their lack of systems, structures, and professionalism while maligning the teachers who have carried the ball forward in the midst of being tackled by poverty, trauma, bad decision making, and reactionary measures in the face of politics and finger pointing? You cannot tell me nothing about a colleague. We work ourselves to exhaustion, creating ways out of no way for children to have a shot at lives we belief every single one deserves. To be pulled away from planning, professional learning communities, data talks, classroom clean up, grading papers, and preparing our hearts and minds to receive students to listen to people tell us we ain’t doing enough? All because teachers are saying that we are exhausted please help?

I get it. Kids ain’t the same. This ain’t 20-30 years ago when the fear of shaming your family and gettin molly whopped for the school calling your mama at her job kept you on the right side of sense. Parents don’t see it that way anymore. Kids don’t value education. Trauma is real. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Research shows what works: teacher collective efficacy. But how are teachers gonna get that if all you do is waste our time trying to Dougie Fresh us and not address our very real concerns? My team got a student (whom I taught last year) who has received virtually zero consequences for his very dangerous actions. Coming to school with drugs. Bullying other kids. Threatening teachers’ lives. But teachers are the problem, though? Nah, son. We not.

I believe the science of the trauma brain. I really do. See it every day. But that don’t apply to every child. And it doesn’t excuse the fact that smooth functioning systems must be in place for the benefit of our students and us.

To pull us all into a meeting that throws the responsibility of dangerous students behavior back on teachers is hot garbage. Hot. Garbage. Cuz how is it MY FAULT that a student threatened to kill a teacher? And who’s traumatized now?

And after all that waste of time, what did we accomplish? Nothing. My day was wasted. I still need to make anchor charts, grade papers, and schedule student conferences. I still need to plan. I still have to deal with students who threaten to kill teachers. I still have to deal with kids being places in my class who have been run up the discipline ladder multiple times because “they can’t stay in the office.”

You want me to stay on the wall? Find me a Nehemiah who will actually lead.

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