After a great deal of soul searching and weighing of both pros and cons, I decided not to accept a position within a particular school. To be honest, I went into the interview a bit skeptical, but also hopeful, that what I would hear from the school’s administration would hit me in a certain way that it would alleviate all fears, and leave me confident in the school’s future. It did not. I left feeling very much disappointed, even with the job offer in hand. I left feeling very disheartened that certain school systems are going backwards as opposed to forwards. I left knowing that what was being presented to me as a language arts teaching position was in reality a remedial reading position, and that those students deserved a much more qualified reading specialist than I currently am. Most of all it left me angry because I feel that the school is doing some of its most needy students a major disservice in order to save itself some money. That even with an expensive reading program those students, as 8th graders still reading at a below basic level, will leave that school without having mastered one of the most important skills learned within the school system: reading. And many, I am sure, will drop out in another year or two, when their frustrations become greater than their dreams and stronger than any law.
And that is ultimately what pulls at my heart strings, and made this decision particularly difficult. I know those students deserve a reading specialist. I know those students deserve someone who has taught reading, can diagnose where the problem is, as opposed to just strengthening what reading skills students already have. I know that I myself don’t have that experience, and yet I also know that in my place will go another new teacher lacking that experience, or worse yet a sub with no teaching experience at all. And that bothers me to no end.
In the meantime, there was another component to this decision. The administration was very honest about the fact that the teacher resigning did not feel comfortable within this particular school system. In the twenty or so minutes that I sat in the school’s office I heard of fights, students and parents complaining about their child’s safety, rampant absenteeism and class skipping, daily use of profanity towards teachers and other students, and a general lack of community in the school. Just this morning, after having already made my decision, I learned that there was a violent event within the school involving a stabbing just yesterday. It is sad for those students, and for the community as a whole, that they’ve allowed the school to sink this low, but that is not the environment I wish to become a part of as a first year teacher.
I don’t think this is the right place for me to start.
It’s opened my eyes a little wider to where the problem lies.
On a happier note, I visited another school with many of the same issues (poverty, low reading scores,etc.), but which has been trying very hard to change the atmosphere within the school to a more positive and supportive one. The differences amongst teachers and administrators was very obvious and tremendous. I realized that a strong sense of support amongst teachers, parents, students and administrators is a necessary component of building a strong school system. I recognized the differences right away. I am grateful that I was able to see another option, and to feel that though I was making a tough decision, it was the right decision for me at this time in my life.