Collapsing in her recliner, a weary teacher props her swollen legs onto the foot rest. The toll of her day weighs down her body as she sinks into the cushion.
Reflection of the first hour of her day turns the corners of her lips up revealing a smile. Reminiscing about joy adorning three of her students’ faces while learning new material. She tickled with delight.
Following her giddiness, the feeling of frustration rose up. Flashes of 42 students crammed into her tiny classroom edged out any pleasure. Ten students sat in chairs with no desks. Oversized teen bodies sardined on top of each other during her last four periods.
In the last hour, two students left in handcuffs. An argument over a stepped-on toe led to voices raised. With one insult too many, fists flew. A girl on the front row pulled the office buzzer. In a matter of seconds, two police officers entered and arrested the boys.
Her school resided in a high-poverty area on the South side of town. Arrests were standard for her students and their parents.
The conditions of the school mirrored the dismal area around it. Boasting the highest crime rate in the city. Dilapidated structures of peeling paint, mold, and decay adorned the school grounds. Antiquated and corroded playground equipment rusted in the ground.
Unappealing and uninviting energy swirled around the parking lot.
Inside the school, ripped pages, torn covers, and scribbles decorated the books. Uncomfortable, vandalized, and structurally unbalanced furniture accessorized the rooms. An air of despair flowed through small pockets of hope permeating the hallways. The teachers radiated positivity despite an oppressive setting.
The day in review casted a dimness on her mood. Overwhelm poured into her sunken heart as her eyes blinked closed. The teacher faded into a shallow sleep state as the clock struck 6:00 p.m.
A rumble in her belly sounded off an internal alarm. Hunger waves signaled time for dinner. Leftovers from Sunday supper allowed her to heat and eat her food within 15 minutes. The call from the foam and feathers on her bed beckoned her to an early bedtime.
Curiosity on Twitter guided her check on her online friends before slumbering. Tweets denoting teachers’ bliss dominated the feed. Discouragement pulsated through her run-down petite frame causing her to question her experiences.
One thread with dozens of responses pierced her heavy heart. A call to quiet unhappy teachers snowballed into harsh words in a mound of replies. They demanded the resignation of undedicated teachers posting grievances on social media.
A racing heart followed shallow breaths of anxiety. Her eyes wide open as they stared at the ceiling.
Awakened by suggestions for her departure from education. As sadness crawled from the phone screen onto her hand, she rolled over onto her side. Her phone placed face down on the nightstand with Twitter closed.
Turning towards the other side of her bed, she reached for her journal and flicked on her night light. Pen in hand, she scribbled down her thoughts.
“How is it that everyone is happy, and I am stressed to the max? Am I the Grinch? Are the other teachers living in Whoville and joyous no matter what? Do they face the issues I face?”
“I am dedicated. I am also beyond exhausted.”
Deep within, her light shined as determination beat resignation. Quitting was not an option. She loved teaching and resented the suggestion to leave the field. She closed her journal and turned out the light.
Perplexed, she lied still and meditated on her wounded feelings.
The thud of logic crashed upon her head. Compassion filled her forgiving heart. She realized the phenomenon that punctuated the Twitter feed was a form of spiritual bypass.
Theses teachers cushioned their pain by denying its existence. Any candor was banished from their reality. The appearance of perfection in their jobs circumvented the compounding problems that loom in education. This is the essence of spiritual bypass.
However, the bottom lines converge. The toxicity of denial equals the toxicity of negativity.
Overpositivity betrays the veracity of the challenges faced in high-poverty schools. The dismissal minimizes the reasons to institute broad changes to the school system.
Without change to the current system, the teacher attrition continues and intensifies.
Every year, high-poverty schools experience greater losses of teachers. Fewer graduates from college choose education, which creates a larger deficit of uncertified teachers. Thus, the increasing reports of turmoil lessen the desire to be a teacher.
The consequences of inequity among schools devastate communities and debilitate opportunities for economic improvement.
This link provides a more in-depth look at the statistics:
The hubris of spiritual bypass creates a dangerous myopia. Teachers’ eyes must remain wide open to the systemic issues of public education. Describing the state of education in honest and plain language is the only way out of this dark hole.
We must shine a flashlight in the dark places and figure out how to turn the light on for everyone.
Having a solutions-oriented mindset facilitates a healthy way to voice opinions for change. Complaining and negativity are toxic.
So is suppressing the truth.