I don’t want to shine a light on what is wrong with our school. It’s just too damn easy — and so many people, from the federal government and NCLB to the local politicians to the news media and so on — they all take their shots at us. It just ain’t that hard to find things wrong around here.
Especially if that’s all you are looking for.
And my principal — who is a really good guy who is trying real hard to change things for the better (and yes, they are changing for the better) — ends up being the fall guy all too often when people are looking to mete out blame for what happened to me.
To his credit, he came to me to see how I was doing later in the day, checked in with me, let me know that they are gonna be turning the screws on the ditchers with renewed energy and vigor right away and so on. Basically, as pissed as I am/was, he is infuriated.
Essentially, he’s a good egg who is aggravated and ashamed and wants to bring the pain to these “bad apples” that are really bringing down our school in a terrible way. (We all know it’s not “ALL” the kids. It’s not even most of the kids. In fact, it’s a small portion of the kids. But on a campus as big as ours is, a small percentage translates into a few hundred and a few hundred delinquent teens mixed into a few thousand, well… it’s all fun and games in a way to them.)
The more I think about it, the more I realize that in a way, being spit on by some rogue students in the middle of a class lesson is not even about me. I mean I can afford a new shirt. It’s about so much more — especially for so many other students and families and community members here. That’s what really gets to me.
And these thoughts all ultimately triggers the question, “Am I even making a freakin’ difference ’round here?”
It’s that thought which plagues me.
And if I give into that thought, if I succumb to the negative energy behind that sentiment, then I will be gone. The only reason I stay is because the work is meaningful and matters to me and I believe that I am being of true service to kids and other teachers. Sure, there’s the paycheck but I am lucky enough to have other ways of making a living in this world. (Heck, I have to augment the wage they pay me anyway to make ends meet – and my other day job, well… let’s just say that it pays better than minimum wage.)
But getting spit on, well… sometimes it takes Mother Mary to be a teacher in America today and I am no freakin’ Mother Mary.
As another teacher told me, “Hey, it could have happened to any of us.” She’s right… but I am not sure if that is a thought that provides any solace.
It’s amazing how confrontational this whole profession has become. It’s like being a teacher today will test your limits in all areas of your life and if the job can find your Achilles’ Heel, it’s gonna swing its sword.
And who does not have an Achilles’ heel? Heck, even Achilles had one.