I've always been told that if you're upset about something, you can have your pity party but then you have to do something about it. This has been a struggle for me this week.
As I've said in my previous blogs, I came out of the schools for the same reason I went into the schools: to help make change. All my counselor friends know this story because we all have the, "so why did you become a counselor?" conversation both in practice and a bazillion times during our training.
I went into counseling after taking two classes from one of my favorite professors ever, Dr. Reppucci. His classes were both in the psychology department (my major) and one was Children, Families, and the Law and the second was Violence and Aggression in Children. I could write a novel about all the things I learned in those classes. The books from his class are ones I still own and read from time to time. The tipping point for me, was even as we are going through allll the psychology theories and policies, etc.--the same themes emerged every time. There are systemic barriers in our world which affect our kids-especially students of color and students of low socio-economic status. Going through the policy work made it just that much clearer for me. Here's the second thing: education was the factor that, no matter what, was the most powerful predictor of helping kids to cross over those barriers. So I became a counselor in the school system.
And dangit if I didn't have the same revelation about the education system while I was in it. Even as I was working with kids I felt angry about my inability to make change. I became so frustrated when I could see the barriers set in front of kids and even as I pushed, got pushed back. So now I'm trying to become an educational psychologist and let me tell you about my latest frustration. There is research and methods and amazing people doing good work out there but it's not getting translated into the school systems! We are still doing the same ol thing and getting the same results! Education should be accessible to all. You should not have to pay college tuition or move to a new location to be able to make sure that your child gets every single thing that they need to succeed, to learn, and to thrive during their childhood. Period.
And it's out there. For real there are so many things people are doing and studying that could help education right now and it's just sitting in a journal. Policy makers expect educators to read these. Yeah, because they have the time. They don't even get a lunch break or planning time anymore. Don't think that they have time at home either, because that's when they finally get to eat and do their lessons and grading. Readers who are in policy get frustrated because they want a 1 note answer--not going to happen people. Everyone is different, people need different things, schools need different things. But you want a first step-here it is: Stop penalizing our schools, our teachers, our kids who are struggling. Instead, why don't you give them what they need? Need some ideas? 1) teachers in the classroom (and I'm not talking 1:40 here), 2) resources that are up to date (kids need materials- and not ones from the 30's), 3) working facilities (bathrooms, walls, windows, regulated temperatures, clean air--sounds simple right?) 4) support-for students and educators-people aren't robots! they have feelings and lives and changes that don't stop. Their world is more than just math and reading.
That's four things- and it's just the most basic. We haven't even gotten in to educator pay, educator training, multi-cultural competencies and curricula, technology, revising what and how we teach and what we teach, making schools more kid-ready, etc.
Now... here's where my frustration comes into play for myself. How do I do something about it? With a problem this size, this deep, this old...what is my place here? How do I make my work something that is not just sitting in a journal (or a blog for that matter) somewhere? Where is my "now do something about it"?
To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.-John Dewey