I'm exhausted tonight. It's my day without a prep and as I look back on my to-do list, I realize that I over-estimated my potential by about two hundred percent. I'll wake up around five and plug away for an hour to hour and a half tomorrow morning.
I was impatient with the kids in math. I was disappointed that their intensity couldn't match my own and I struggled to manage my small group intervention while the class wrestled with a really tough word problem.
I make a mental list of what to fix: make sure all kids are getting to the enrichment center, send home positive notes to the remaining twelve who haven't gotten them, hang up my math discourse questions on the wall, stay on top of birthdays (I've let that slide, even though they're in the calendar), get the supplies for the solar ovens, send my data to the right people, update my hours to send in for compliance . . .
I am re-reading The Hunger Games, this time thinking about my students and whether they can access the language. I'm thinking through the themes. I'm asking questions about the characters. My mind switches over prime factorization.
Next year, start with the context and the concepts and then introduce the process later. You know that works best. Let them discover the Greatest Common Factor. Let them see it matters first.
I have no business telling people how to teach. I have no business giving keynotes. The fact that I've been given such influence still baffles me. I'm still trying to improve.
But here's the thing:
Never in the mix of all of this does money enter the equation. I'm working hard with the goal of helping students think better about life. I'm refining my practice for mixed motives (an arrogant perfectionism and a humble desire to serve). I will continue to reflect on how I'm doing regardless of pay. I will continue to look for new ideas regardless of professional development clock hours.
Whether it pans out in the end is a mystery. There are far too many human factors for me to claim that my kids will learn more or score higher or any of that. But throwing cash my way won't make me work harder, learn more or reflect better on my practice.
If you want me to thrive, just trust me and pay me a living wage. If my kids do great, be amazed that they triumphed in tough circumstances. Be honored that you get to witness their success. But don't be surprised when I feel insulted when you suggest that my value can be added and my merit can be quantified numerically.