“I have this all planned out,” he says showing me his syllabus.  “But I never stick to it.” 

I talk to one of the local history teachers during my observation of his classroom.

“How many years have you been teaching now?” I ask.

“Oh,” he looks up.  “About 12 years now.”

“How often do you change up your curriculum?”

“I make it a point to change about 20 percent of my curriculum every year.  See the curriculum is like a menu and I get to choose how hungry I am or what I am hungry for.  They say that it’s all about the students, but it’s about you too.  You’ll get stale doing the same thing every year.” 

“What is the biggest difference between this class and your college prep classes?”

I am sitting on a World History AP course.

“It’s not as much a difference in intellectual ability as you might think.  You know how many of these kids parents showed up on back to school night?”

“How many?”

“All of them.  I had a class field with criminals a few years ago—it was a fourth period.  They needed guidance.  Guess how many parents showed up?”

“I’m guessing not many.”

“One.  One student.  I don’t need to see the honors kids parents.  I need to see the parents of criminals.  But that doesn’t happen.  That was a hard year for me. 

I can see that he’s not just saying it.  I feel within that moment a kind of sympathy for him.  He really wanted those kids to succeed.  He really wanted to see some good done in the world, but it so often depends on others.  That is the main tradeoff with jobs in the public service sector—you are dependent on the public for your job.  And so often, the public complains but does not a thing to make your job any better.  


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