I hate all this testing, a student says pointedly in my direction. As if I pursued my certification just to force him to bubble answers for hours at a time. When I offer that it’s not exactly the dream that we all had when we went into teaching, another student asks: What do teachers dream of?
We want to inspire our students, I tell him.
They roll their eyes and then ask me about money, about the bonuses we get when students meet certain goals. I laugh, because there’s no money for bonuses in these tight times, and, anyway, nobody goes into teaching for the money. This is enough of an answer for them, and they change the subject.
In the middle of a week of testing, I sit with four girls in the library after school. We eat chips and drink orange soda and they tell me about spring break and their parents and what they hope for high school. And then we talk about a book. I asked them to read to page 137 before Wednesday, but all of them finished it. Couldn’t put it down, they said. This book is amazing. I am not quite ready to talk about the whole thing, haven’t expected everyone to finish. I get them to talk instead. They tell me about trust and respect and finding your voice. They already know the importance of creativity and expression and they tell me how they love sewing and singing and drawing and writing. They have fierce opinions about double standards. They grow quiet when we talk about the dangers of being a woman in this world.
When Mike asks how the discussion went, I tell him: I am living the dream.