A heart so empty…

Post #200…whew!

I pasted what is written below into this post…and then stared at the delete key for a long time.  I hope that this post does not resonate with many people…but if it does…I hope that you know you are not alone.

I am in my right work…my dirty little secret is that I find it very painful.  I am not a teacher who wakes up everyday eager to get to school.  On many days its hurts.  I love my job.  I love my career. I hate my job.  I hate my career.  I love being who I am.  I hate being who I am.  I can’t think of anything I would rather be doing. Everyday I can think of a million places I would rather be.  I have the perfect placement, with the perfect kids, yet I feel like I am always in the wrong place.  I am a part of an institution which seems bent on destroying many kids, yet I cannot even dream of leaving it.  I am apart of an institution that I want to influence and find a niche, but the institution does not want people like me in it. Every year another rule, policy, law is passed adding tests, standardization, data. The only thing getting more rigorous is my heart.  I am one person at home, another with my students, another with the parents, various other personalities depending on which colleagues I am with, and even have a couple online personalities. All I want to do is stick my head out and make a difference, but I fear…I am just scared. Scared of perceptions, scared of repercussions.  I am locked into a institution in which I have made to feel ashamed of what I am doing.  We are blatantly teaching to the test. We are blatantly standardizing the kids and their experience.  We are blatantly standardizing teachers.  This is progress.  This is the future…this is my future. Am I a victim?  I feel like a victim but I am a fighter…but I stay in my corner.
How do I survive?  I hide.  At meetings I don’t bring up exactly what I do. When questions about kids are brought up I play a role that keeps my passions hidden.  I never answer or speak up with what I believe…I hide.  I can’t be me outside of my four walls…they keep me safe…they keep us safe.  I have forgotten what I am hiding from…who I am hiding from. I don’t have to hide from the kids.  The kids get me.  I get them.  Does the teaching profession get me?  Do I get them?  The kids and I connect with an open honesty.  They tell me like it is…and I tell them.  I rock…we rock in the classroom.  We stand tall, we smile, we laugh, we cry. We get excited, we dream big, we are unstoppable.  We are not rigorous, we are not standardized, we are individuals who collectively do things that were previously thought to be impossible.  The other day we were talking about rebels.  Talked about the characteristics of rebels and how it was funny that the list on the board were all qualities that the world tells children not to have.  They discussed that our entire history book was full of rebels.  Almost all positive change comes from rebels.  I asked, “Who in the world would want to have a group of kids with these qualities in their classroom?”  They answered, “You would Mr. Bogush.”  I am developing rebels, but I am afraid to join the rebellion.
I am not proud of what I have become.  I get kids to see themselves for who they really are.  I only hope that I can wipe off years of systematic abuse in a single grade.  Kids write to me at the end of the year with words such as “I now know who I am.”  “I now know what kind of person I want to be.”  Why do I still not know that about myself?  I feel destined to hide outside of my heart.  I am passionate, but do not follow my passions.  A leader who does not lead.  A teacher, who cannot teach himself.  Seemingly fearless in taking risks, but full of fear when in a situation in which those risks might be shared.
After 20 years of teaching I have never had a belly so full, and a heart so empty.
MLK once said “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”  Tomorrow I take the first step in re-framing my work.  I have allowed myself to be pushed into a corner, made to feel like an outsider.  No one made me feel this way.  No one has that power…I accepted…I imposed all sorts of labels upon myself.  I walked into the corner myself…now it is time to walk out.

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