Happy 11 Month Birthday, Indignant Teacher!
I remember a year ago tomorrow like it was yesterday. I dropped my boys off with my mother and headed “in town” to Court Street, where I went through the lengthy process of resigning from the Boston Public Schools, after 15 years of dedicated service in some of the most impoverished schools in the City.
The day was bittersweet – and stressful. I had no plans for my financial future, and no idea of what possibly I could do, other than teach. But I also knew that I had no choice. I could not continue to go to work every day and do these things that I was mandated to do, while knowing that none of them were in the best interest of the lives I was expected to positively affect.
People thought I was crazy. People thought I was having a mid-life crisis or something for throwing away this job security and financial security for my future, to just “quit”. But I wasn’t “quitting” the job I once loved – the job I once knew I excelled at…that was long gone. I was leaving this nightmare of corporate reform, which, at the time, I was totally ignorant about. All I knew then was that everything that was happening in the schools was so very, very wrong. And I hated being a part of it all.
So I turned in the requisite paperwork and went home and started studying…reading…learning about everything I had no idea about before this. Diane Ravitch was the voice of clarity for me. And a month later, The Indignant Teacher was born.
I started testifying at the State House against the corporate reform measures. I started writing this blog in hopes that my voice would be heard. And so far, I’ve had 380,000 views, which I think is pretty successful.
Summertime came, and I realized that my retirement package would not last forever, and I needed to find something to do. My good friend was going to teach in Abu Dhabi, so I started looking into that. However, I was applying in the very late stages of international teaching jobs, so I was not optimistic.
September came, and I realized I had to make a decision about the education of my own 3 elementary-aged boys. Not wanting to expose them any longer to the devastation of corporate reform, I decided to home-school. This was far from my own ideal situation, but, as a mother, I didn’t know what other choice I had.
We turned the dining room into a “classroom” and school got started for these 1st, 2nd, and 4th graders. Funny enough, all three of them were much “better” students than they were sons. They put on their school faces, even at home school, but once they left the dining room for the day, all bets were off, and they again went into the driving-me-crazy mode.
During the third week of September I was invited to have a Skype interview with a private school in Mirdif, Dubai. I was offered, on the spot, the position of Special Needs Coordinator. I accepted, and, on October 7th, we got on the plane.
My life here has been amazing – but also difficult, in some ways. The school is unspeakably awesome; from a parent’s point of view, I couldn’t ask or hope for more. My boys are thriving; their teachers are some of the best I have ever come to know. They are also learning Arabic – and all picking it up so quickly – which I think is fantastic. It is a fully bilingual IB school, and I am blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of it, and have my boys be a part of it as well.
If you had asked me 11 months ago whether or not I’d ever see myself walking away from everything I ever knew – leaving my comfort zone of Boston, to travel halfway across the world to teach in the Middle East – I’d have said you’re crazy. But we’re here, and I couldn’t be happier to have this opportunity – or especially, to give my boys the opportunity to be educated in a place that values and focuses on what they need, and not what someone is trying to make a buck from.
At the end of the day, I miss my Boston friends and family terribly, and I hope to someday return. But this corporate reform movement needs to be redirected – and soon. I will continue to do what I can from here, and am optimistic that things will soon change. We all need to stand together and fight for what is right for our children – and tomorrow’s generation.