Every time I see another heartbreaking headline like a most recent article in The Washington Post that is popping up on many sites: Kindergarten teacher: My job is now about tests and data — not children. I quit. I want to know the next step. What is this person going to do now? Is it possible to just let it go?
Early in my adult life, my heart opened to an idea of how our children could spend their daytime hours in school. Through the years, I have immersed in ideas for how we see children, their play, their work, and their gifts, how we teach in ways that support their thinking, structures that allow children to take ownership of their learning and their work through writers workshop, through integrating visual and performing arts, through experiential learning, travel, visions of global leadership not only when they grow up but while they are in school.
I have spent countless hours in conversations and writing documents to articulate alignment between progressive efforts and government mandates so we could work with those in power in order to keep going. I have nodded my head, asked questions, suggested compromises that left me wondering what I was even trying to do anymore. And, I have kept going through setbacks, barriers caused not only by government powers but also by dynamics within the non-profits where I worked.
I have been awestruck by brilliant teachers and leaders who find ways for their schools and classrooms to be joyful, creative hives of exploration and discovery for everyone. I have been inspired by students who persevere, who find a passion, who reach out to help people they know and people they have heard are in need, who develop and grow from year to year.
I have been driven by my heart that opened to an idea for children many years ago. Even when I want to quit, I end up continuing from another angle.
Because I wonder….how do you let go of a dream? What happens to the dedicated teachers and principals who quit? What do they go on to do and how do they let it go? Where have they gone?