Several months ago my students asked me to say the above catch phrase. When I did, it was all they could talk about. For some reason, whenever I say slang they think it’s hilarious. From time to time I like to interrupt my own rants by daintily proclaiming, “I’m about to fry”, or “I know she did not just say that.”
“I ain’t about that life.” It means a lot of different things depending on the situation, but lately I’ve been reminding myself that I’m really not about the things I see around me. Somehow education has become a business, and the profits are test scores. The argument has been made so many times and in so many ways that even I’m tired of hearing it.
Lately I have been reminded of another casualty of 21st century public eduation – professionalism. Instead of working together, teachers more often than not act like competitors. Rather than sharing best practices, we share insults and exchange passive-aggressive remarks during meetings. Instead of finding solutions for our students, we find ourselves working in isolation against insurmountable challenges in the classroom.
And the test scores aren’t enough. We must be leaders in every area of school culture, even if it means backstabbing, lying and cheating our colleagues out of the recognition they deserve. The incentive programs designed to recognize good teachers and encourage others do just the opposite – they recognize teachers who find shortcuts, and discourage the truly great educators.
This school year has put me on the verge of reconsidering a career in teaching altogether. Moving states and schools was difficult enough, but I was looking forward to being part of a team and being able to teach the subject that I love. Instead I have been called derrogatory names by my “colleagues”, purposefully left out of meetings, been thrown out of a classroom by another teacher, been hung up on, been mocked, and told that my presence was not wanted. When I’m asked why I will not be returning to my school next year, I will have only one response:
I ain’t about that life.