Say yes to YOU! Say it out loud! In the car while commuting, in the shower, on your morning run. Scream yes! I am me! Bring it Monday! I'm ready!
Are you ready to really say yes to your life? I hope so. What will this yes look like? I've had some big yesses as of late, the biggest one was leaving my "cushy" teaching job in order to create and bring Write for Healing to life and to attend grad school, so I can bring my vision of writing as a therapeutic tool to even more people! I said yes to living authentically and to honoring my passion and vision. It was not at all easy to decide this. The day it shifted was some time in October 2013.
I knew that our school was slated for a state and board visit. For those of you who are teachers, you know what this is like. For those of you in the corporate world, it is like all of your bosses from the top all the way down surprise visiting you during a big meeting in which you are running. The bosses interrupt you and the people in your meeting to ask questions like: "What are you learning?" Or "Where's your data?" All while you're trying to nail the biggest presentation of your life. Public teaching is like this regularly. I am not against being evaluated. I am against the way it is done. I decided not to go in that day as a mini-rebellion and took a mental health day, but I did one of those things you read about on occasion about a teacher who goes against the grain. I left a letter on the SmartBoard:
To All of My Students:
I want you to know how much I care about all of you, even when you drive me insane (which is often and over the edge insane). I could not bring myself to come to work today, because people who were in the classrooms long ago, who are out of touch with what really happens in a classroom or who are required to be on this team are coming in to judge what we do, and it is part of an approved system for teacher evaluation. It is political and corporate—there are many people benefitting from the rules and regulations set forth to prove how much we are failing, because they are setting us up to fail. I am tired of playing by their rules and pretending that there is a one size fits all approach to education. There is not. There are artists, musicians, mechanics, surgeons, designers waiting to emerge, but with an over emphasis on irrelevant tests, many of you are being stifled. Each and every one of you is valuable (remember our subject-verb agreement exercises? Even though I'm addressing all of you, grammatically the sentence is singular). I say that and mean it. I also want to say to you that much of what we are required to teach you is important, but the way we have to teach it is boring and confined and cookie cutter and narrow minded. You know what I really want to teach you—how to get lost in the love of learning. Remember the TED talk we watched given by Logan LaPlante? The kid who hacked his schooling? I want that for you, but I'm limited by the bureaucracy of education—by the policy makers who believe you should be tested, then tested again and again and again and again and again. They believe that by testing you more, that you are learning more, but really we are just boring the crap out of you. I'm bored teaching what they want me to teach you, so I know you're bored. I don't even follow what they tell me to teach you to the T—I try to change it up, but testing prevails.
As your teacher and a person who cares deeply about you, your assignment for today and tonight is to find something you're passionate about and learn everything you can about it. Once you start loving how to learn (like you did in kindergarten), you will begin to do it naturally. I promise not to test you on it, but please, if you feel a spark because you learned something fantastic, tell me all about it. I can't wait to know!
Most importantly, do what you feel is right for you (as long as it doesn't harm others). Learn and love to learn.
I love you all! See you tomorrow!
P. S. We will resume, in LAL 2, Catcher in the Rye (this book is so great -- frustrated teenager, just like most of you) activities, and in Creative Writing, we will resume working on long term creative projects and writing prompts after you learn something awesome.
All day I was panicked, completely. I listened to some of my favorite Hay House talks while I sat in one of my favorite cafes in Lambertville. I was writing about how I was feeling which was so uncomfortable and sickening. I had just said exactly what I'd been feeling for so long, and what many educators across the country also felt. I was sure the next day I would be reprimanded, written up, stalked by administrators from the board, but none of that happened. My fears were much bigger than reality (duh, right?). Instead, I had co-workers approaching me all day giving me praise for my courage to say it. Apparently, the letter made it to the teachers' lounge. One co-worker continuously called me She-Ra after the incident. There were also people who thought it was totally nuts and "Was I out of my mind? You have a family to take care of." It was one of the bravest acts I have ever committed, because I wholly believed in what I said and that day I said yes to my yes. After writing the letter and leaving it on display, I knew I'd be able to give my notice to leave teaching. I did so shortly after that day, quietly to my principal. Most people were unaware of my departure until close to the end of the year.
Today, as all of my former co-workers are freaking out about returning to work in a few weeks, I'm embracing the unknowns of diving head first into Write for Healing, working from home, and attending grad school online. There is so much that I don't know, but I have never been happier in my whole entire existence and as I continue to say yes to my yes, I know that joy will continue to explode.
Much love to you!