I have taught my entire career in Title I schools. My heart is there and I can’t imagine doing anything else (which, actually, might mean I should teach somewhere else for the experience…).
One result of this is that I’ve spent 18 years teaching in an environment of, at least slight, stress. As a school, we’re always on the verge of failure, by the definition of test scores.
That’s frustrating because I know how much hard, good work is happening on a daily basis by kids and teachers.
On the other hand, it means I constantly get to keep growing and learning because there is no other choice. That can be true in any school, but working in a Title I school often means our fabulous students are not as likely to pass tests as more privileged students would be. So we have to keep pushing ourselves.
Being in a school that consistently exists in a state of anxiety about student learning and achievement means we are all consistently working to improve our practice. Our administration works hard to offer us opportunities to grow as educators, be it bringing in folks to help us learn more about working with certain populations or subject areas or purchasing professional books for us to read together in teachers as readers groups. We are offered lots of ways and chances to continue learning and becoming better at teaching our students.
We continually talk to each other about our practice, what’s working and where we’re struggling. We encourage each other, celebrate together, and pull each other up when necessary.
I love it. Not only do I love our students and our families (which I really, really do) but I love being in an environment and with folks who are always striving to improve and better serve our kiddos. I am exceptionally lucky.
Image from Tommy Wong's flickr.