Slush Happens and A Personal Confession

Many first year teachers enter their new classroom with a newly acquired skill set and the drive to change the face of education one student at a time.

Then…(insert dramatic, 10 second musical interlude)

They run into what I like to call “The Slush.” The slush is all of the paperwork, the broken copiers, the difficult administrators, the lack of guidance for students and teachers, the burnt out and complacent teachers, the ineffective PLTs, the super teachers, and the list goes on. (Side note: Not every school is full of all of this slush, but at least every school has a little bit.)

Seriously, how does education expect any teacher to make it through the slush and come out on the other side just as motivated and driven?

Ok confession time…I am jealous of all of the teachers that not only made it through the slush, but came out of the slush more successful and albeit borderline famous educators because it sure hasn’t happened to me.  I wish I was that teacher or at least saw a road that would lead me their one day, but instead, the slush is slowly swallowing me. I constantly feel like I am fighting battles that make sense to you and I, but to the majority of the big dogs in my school and district I might as well as be speaking my own made-up language.  I guess I just thought there would either be less slush or I would be able to fight through it sooner.

Not to toot my horn or clang my own symbol, but I have always been somewhat of a high flyer (as my principal likes to say). I made straight A’s through high school with the occasional B and went to college on a full ride.  I graduated college with a 3.8 and found a job right out of college in a job market that was even tough for teachers.  After my first year of teaching, I was named a finalist for the First Year Teacher of the Year Award.  And now I am beginning graduate school.  I have been very lucky and blessed throughout my entire life and short teaching career, but now all of sudden I am drowning in slush and to be brutally honest, I’m not used to it…not at all.

I don’t know why I am having trouble fighting through it.  I’ve done all of right things.  I have surrounded myself with accomplished educators in my PLN.  I work diligently to try and stay on top of the educational trends and best practices.  I read through my RSS feed almost every day to continuously build upon my knowledge of teaching, grow my educational resources, and hone my skills.  Yet somehow, even after 2 years of teaching, education is rubbing my face in the slush.  In fact many days, I feel like education is holding me down and making me drink the slush.

It’s difficult to look around and see (or read about) all of these super-human teachers. Many teachers have written at least one book (if not more).  Many teachers have been on Oprah.   Many teachers have thousands of twitter followers or a worldwide blogging audience.  Many teachers have won awards and moved on to bigger and better things.  And here I am with my 366 followers, my small (yet very much appreciated) blogging audience, and my very un-famous teaching career.

I guess my point is that in a society that worships the quick fix, praises celebrities and athletes, and salivates over how make to quickest and biggest dollar, it is easy to feel like a failure…especially in teaching.  I am jealous of all of those teachers who have made it to the promise land.

Then I remember — it’s not about me at all.  It’s not even about y’all.  It’s about them…my students.  With so much focus on Arne Duncan, core standards, RTTT, teacher evaluation and accountability, it is so easy to lose sight of why we all teach.  Maybe the promise land is different for me.  Maybe the promise land is different for teachers who set out to be change agents in their classrooms and if they impact education on a larger scale…well that’s just a bonus.  Look, bottom line…slush happens, and sometimes I just have to remind myself of why I fight through the slush every day and why I’m happy to do it.

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One Response to Slush Happens and A Personal Confession

  1. Kristy says:

    Luke, I love your word choice- slush! I am sorry you feel it already, in year two! The students, whose learning you’ve influenced in exponential ways ( which you may never see) will be forever grateful to you for strapping on your boots, trudging through the burocratic slush, and creating a challenging, engaging classroom community! Hang in there!

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