This fall I will begin my twentieth year of teaching. It has been, to quote the poet, "a long, strange trip." In many ways, it has been a cyclical struggle with regular reminders of why I went into education in the first place. Those moments when I truly connect with a kid, when I see that synapse fire and I know a connection has been made, the struggle is forgotten. Nonetheless, there is still that sense of Sisyphus rolling that rock up the hill with the certainty of having to start all over again once summer ends.
But for now, hope springs from the possibilities of what a new school year will bring. New faces on the playground. New faces in the staff room. All that potential for hope and change. This is the time for teachers to collect themselves and prepare for what lies ahead. We rest. We go to trainings. We look forward to finding ways to do our jobs that will make it easier on everyone. On the playground. In the staff room. In the class room.
For many of us, the climb we are making up the ladder of tenure and salary offers the hope that there will be rewards for sticking with it. If you lived in Wisconsin, you might be having a less-than-tranquil summer, since they have this fellow named Scott Walker for a governor. He was recently asked by reporters whether he thought incentive-driven salary programs would make it harder for K-12 schools to retain teachers in his state."If the Green Bay Packers pay people to perform and if they perform well on their team, (the Packers) pay them to do that," Walker said. "They don't pay them for how many years they've been on the football team. They pay them whether or not they help (the Packers) win football games."
Well, it turns out that they do, and the National Football League players have a union that ensures that its players get paid well over the average yearly salary of fifty thousand dollars that teachers make. And every year there are whole teams who fail miserably in an attempt to win the Super Bowl, and every year they get asked to come back and try again. Sometimes they move the teams. Sometimes they fire coaches or cut players, but they get paid. More and more each year.
I try not to think about football much during the summer. Maybe Governor Walker should do the same.