It’s been a long week . . .

and even though it’s Friday night, I’m going to back-date this because then my saying, “have I mentioned it’s been a long week?” in the post I wrote tonight and back-dated to Thursday will make sense.

(do you feel cheated, dear 2.75 readers out there?! if so, I am deeply sorry.)

Here’s the crazy thing, though. I wrote a while back about my decision to not pursue the NYCTF thing. At the time, it seemed clear that this was not the path I was to take, at least not right now. But this week, I found myself back on the emotional roller coaster of indecision because of two incidents that led me to two completely opposite conclusions.

First, lunch on Monday. I had the joy of sitting with the wife of my favorite new CRWM staff member, who is a teacher, as well as with another new missionary who is a social worker and will be in a school setting in the country she and her husband are moving to. Somehow the conversation turned to charter schools, NCLB, etc, and I was instantly engaged . . . doing that typical “lorraine” thing of practically jumping out of my chair because I just had so, so, SO much to say.

The thing is, I have strong opinions about the whole charter school thing (which I’m sure you didn’t notice), and my passion for racial justice is so inextricably tied up in my passion for public education that serves ALL of our children, and perhaps especially those who don’t have parents who are able or willing to fight for what they need. (This is mostly Jonathan Kozol’s fault.) So then, am I *meant* to be a teacher? What am I to do with all of this passion?

Then there was today. (try not to think about the fact that “today” is really two days ago as I’m writing this–we’re pretending it’s Wednesday, remember?)

There was an hour’s gap in our childcare schedule at the last minute, and my supervisor, knowing how much I love kids, suggested that I be the one to fill in that hour. Now, the thing is, I love kids, but I think that I tend to enjoy them much more on a one-on-one basis. I also don’t do quite as well with rambunctious and/or disobedient kids . . . basically, I’m a sucker/pushover/wimp, and kids can smell that the minute they look at me. I make all of these feeble attempts to set limits and boundaries, and yet I end up letting too many things slide, and chaos ensues. This hour, with this particular group of kids was no exception.

(this is what the room looked like while I was in charge)

I did have their attention while I read a few books, and was able to re-focus them for the most part during that part of it. But then there I was, trying to extract profound conversation from them, and I really got nowhere.

Worst of all, however, the teenager who was there to help for the day told me at lunchtime that, “as soon as Mrs. Z got there, they were all very well-behaved.” In other words, Mrs. Z took control of the classroom and was able to “manage” it. Me, not so much. So I don’t communicate very well with groups of children, am not good at engaging them, and have NO classroom control whatsoever. Any of the “maybe I SHOULD do this” thoughts that I’d had a few days before flew out of the window with that one observation from an objective observer. As anybody can see, I don’t like meting out discipline, and I am NOT a good teacher. I’m not even sure I really relate/connect to kids in any meaningful way . . . maybe they all just think I’m nuts, who knows. (wouldn’t be the first time . . . )

(this is the classroom restored to order and sanity once the “real” teacher arrived.)

Then I think, “well, I could go into administration . . . have some role like that . . . train educators . . . ” but of course, none of this makes sense because I can’t see any path to training educators that precludes my having first BEEN an educator.

So yes, we are back to square one. Thanks for reading! We have some lovely parting gifts for you . . .

Sunday blogging against racism #16–40 years later, we’re in worse shape than before.

So I’m reading Jonathan Kozol’s Letters to a Young Teacher   and it’s absolutely amazing . . . but this one chapter in particular, about the reversals of the gains made during the civil rights era, really struck me, and I knew I’d found my Sunday fodder . . . here are a few quotes:

         The percentage of black children who now go to integrated public schools has fallen to its lowest level since the death of Dr. King in 1968. In New York and California, seven out of every eight black students presently attend a segregated school. (pg. 77)

[One African-American teacher in New York] “refused to give his kids a set of lesson plans he’d been assigned for what he called “The Famous [Selma] March Curriculum.” Instead, he said he’d posted on his classroom walls all the stuff that he could find about the racist education system in which he was working now.
                 “You see,” he said, “to the very poor black children that I teach . . . , it doesn’t matter much what bridge you may have stood on thirty years ago. They want to know what bridge you stand on now.” (pg. 83)

 I am beginning to believe that I was born for just this thing, to find that bridge and stand, and walk, and shout until I can’t shout anymore for justice for these kids.

I pray that God will point my feet in that direction.