Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud.
– Hermann Hesse
The school psychologist sitting two stools down from me at the coffee shop making calls to teachers and parents about students on her case load wasn’t the part that upset me the most this afternoon.
It should have been.
The moment she started talking about the student she evaluated earlier today and the outcomes, that moment should have been the moment that took the cake.
If not that, then when she started talking to a colleague who happened by and asked, “The level of incompetence is nowhere near as bad as it is in Philadelphia, right?” or commented, “I was there an hour and there was no instruction. It was just an hour of poor management.”
That public destruction of our profession should have been my lowest moment.
As I assumed was a common core standard in elementary school before such things became sheik, a difference exists between inside and outside voices.
It’s what we talk about to people we know, but no better than to speak of to anyone who’s not us.
I learned the lesson well as my mother scrubbed shampoo into my hair for the eighth time when I was 7 and got head lice the day before my aunt and uncle’s wedding.
“Zac, tomorrow, you tell NO ONE about this. Do you understand me?”
I understood perfectly.
The teachers at the end of the counter never reached proficiency.
At first, all I knew was that they were teachers by the few words of jargon I caught as I attempted to get my work done.
It was more than that.
They were grading – aloud.
One teacher was reading her students’ answers to her friend with a voice that at once belied her consternation that they were getting things wrong while mocking them as well.
“I let them draw pictures here of their answers and then had them write to explain,” she said.
Then, they marveled at the poor grammar, syntax and quality of the responses.
I can understand frustration. I know we’re at the long home stretch of the school year in a district where March featured not a single day off.
I get all that, and I know the tired that can come when you feel as though you’ve taught a concept in every conceivable way to no avail. I do.
Still, we are teachers. We are entrusted with our students’ and their learning. We would have taken an oath to do our best by our students, but there was too much to get done, so we work by an unspoken oath.
In a time when the profession is fighting for credence from the society we serve, openly mocking those in our charge who are most in need does nothing good, nothing nurturing and nothing to show the true potential of the classroom.
When we should be building sanctuaries, these two were building cliches.
And then the conversation turned.
They started to plan their next careers – their logical progressions.
“I kinda want to run a school?”
She didn’t mean it as a question, but she said it as one.
I know the answer.