A comment on yesterday's whiny entry asked, "I wonder why it is you stay in Baltimore." Certainly a fair question, and it's certainly something that I've thought about a lot. I'm feeling pretty let down by the city lately. Maybe I just miss the "Believe" signs, but it just seems like the city has lost its verve or something. It's just so trashy, so crime-ridden, so disorganized, so apathetic in so many ways. And my family is far away. Why is it that I stay here?
It's mostly about the job. I think I really have a unique teaching job. The more I take classes up at Towson, and listen to those county teachers talk about their horrible jobs, where they have a mandated curriculum where people check whether you're on page 172 the day you're supposed to be on page 172, the more lucky I feel. Could I find a job where I can do the work I'm doing now, somewhere else? I don't think one exists in Michigan, especially in that current job market. Maybe somewhere in the Chicago area, maybe. I'll be here next year and the year after (BCPSS requires this for its reimbursement of my tuition costs), but after that, the epiphany probably won't be in Baltimore anymore. We'll see, though, of course.
Here is what I would look for in a school, which are all things I have now:
1. An International Baccalaureate school: I think the program is great, and I know I've developed some systems that work very well with it.
2. A school where the parents are almost always supportive
3. A school with an at-risk population
4. A school with kids who want to do well, where rigorous standards are set and met
5. A school where you can get away with teaching almost anything, as long as you can justify it according to state standards
6. A school with a lot of flexibility of curriculum, where I get a huge say in what I decide to do in my classroom for any given day
7. A school with a lot of great young teachers, who challenge me to be a better teacher. I literally work with two Nationally Board certified teachers, plus several others who are just great
8. A decent pay, for a teacher with my experience
9. A school where I get to coach baseball
10. A school where I have some clout. I'm committed, people know it, and my words hold some weight.
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