My Fellow Teachers,
Do something risky.
Risky like those steep, steep water slides that tear screams out of the most well-mannered folk. Risky like bungee jumping, skydiving and . . .Crossing the street without looking both ways. Okay, not that last one, but terrifying stuff. .. Where you question your own sanity and decision-making skills. Risky like taking an unpaid sabbatical after 18 years of teaching.
Have you ever been on a “wedgie” slide? You know; those water park slides that you have to climb a million stairs to get to the top of? The ones that always leave you with no graceful way to exit the trough at the bottom. . .because of your bottom? At the top of “wedgie” slides, while waiting your turn, you look down. Way down to see if the people who just disappeared from view are smiling after the plunge. Am I the only one that considers turning and going right back down all those stairs? Salty sweat oozes from all of you and your heart is constricted with tension. It will be thrilling. It will be terrifying. It will tear a scream from your quiet demeanor. You shouldn’t do it. You might get injured. Are you ready to meet God face to face? Yes. Yes! Let’s go. Wait! It’s my turn?
Taking a sabbatical from teaching after 18 years on the job is not for the faint of heart. It feels just like being at the top of a wedgie slide. Once you sit, waiting for the lifeguard signal, there is no turning back. Those split seconds of terror as the slide swallows you whole are exactly what pops you up smiling, at least thinking about going again. Maybe.
It’s risky to write to colleagues all over the nation and hope they will see what you are gently trying to point out. Of course not everyone will concur, or be surprised. I’m doing this for students, and our nation.
I’m doing this for teachers – for us! We can have the types of schools we all dream of teaching in. Autonomy, appreciation, trust, resources, quality teammates, innovative ideas. . . There’s one obstacle holding us back! Let’s move it, together, through teamwork (where individual outside-the-box ideas aren’t squelched). Not “solidarity”, which has cookie-cuttered us into all the same pay, all the same work schedule, all the same rules, all the same standards, all the same school structure, where no one steps out of march. . .
Take a risk, colleagues! Stop following the beat of the teacher union drum. Dream your wildest, “If my school could just be. . .then my students could. . .” dream!
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all. -Helen Keller