Monday, August 13, 2012

Why I am a difficult Employee

Or…you can’t take the East Tulsa out of the girl

I realize I am a difficult employee and coworker.  I am highly passionate about my work and my students.  It is my mission to provide my students with the highest-quality education and the best opportunities.  If someone or something stands in the way of this, I can get angry and a little bit scary.

I care about my students, and while I do care about the adults at my school, sometimes I just do not care about their feelings.  It is not that I am cold-hearted or mean, it is just that I do not have time to sugar-coat what needs to be said or done.

My passion stems from my upbringing.  I was raised on 28th Street in East Tulsa, which may as well have been Sesame Street.  As a child, I was not aware that my neighborhood was unique.  I had friends of many races, nationalities, and religions.  I spent time in homes where English was not spoken.  I knew at a young age that I was not a fan of Indian food, but that some Vietnamese dishes were excellent.  I never thought seeing a man wearing a turban was odd, because my neighbor, and father of my friend, wore one every day. 

I attended ***** Elementary School, ***** Middle School, and ****** High School.  I received a quality education.  I still remember what I learned from my elementary school science teacher, Mrs. Harris.  My high school teachers mentored me when I became a teacher myself.  I would not have changed anything about my education courtesy of ***** Public Schools and the East Tulsa community.

As I became an adult, I realized that my experiences were, in fact, unique.  I would tell people that I graduated from ****** and immediately the negative comments began, ranging from “I thought that was a black school” to “did you have to wear a bullet-proof vest?”  As a teacher at *****, the same thing happens when I mention where I work.  “How can you teach those kids?”

My response is, “I am one of those kids.”  While I did have some advantages that many of my current students and former classmates did not, the fact remains that I owe a lot to my *****Public Schools teachers.  I had two loving parents who worked three jobs combined, so we always had food and anything we needed.  However, we were not wealthy.  I was able to go to college because of a full academic scholarship.  My brother went to college on academic and athletic scholarships.  So, yes, those kids can and do go to college, regardless of their economic circumstances.

Therefore, when anyone implies that my students are not capable of going to college, or learning, or behaving, or pretty much doing anything other than ending up in prison, I get angry.  I get angry when those in charge think we should focus our students on careers that do not require a degree because they believe they are incapable of attending college.  I get angry when our students are denied technology because they believe the students will steal or destroy it.  I get angry when we are told to teach our students differently than students at other schools because our kids are somehow damaged and cannot learn the same.  I get angry when someone who knows nothing about the students or the community makes assumptions about our students based on their race or socioeconomic status.  I get angry when our students are seen as so worthless that the only way to get someone to teach them is by bribing recent college graduates with student loan payoffs.  I get angry when our students are talked about as test scores instead of human beings.  I get angry when the egos and feelings of adults are more important than the lives of our students.

I get angry because anything that is said about my students is actually being said about me.  I take it personally, which is breaking one of my own personal philosophies.  However, my identity as a graduate of ***** is something I cannot and would not ever change.  Therefore, when I see my students being mistreated, ignored, and belittled, yes, I will get angry, and I will not apologize.
****Edited to remove school names, due to the new social media policy of my employer.  Yes, it is ridiculous, but I like my job and don't want to lose it over a blog no one reads :)