Given the amount of blowback directed towards flipclass teachers lately, much of it unwarranted, I wonder, really, is it worth it?
Given the long workdays (I probably spend 85 percent of my waking hours thinking about school or actively teaching it), I wonder, while stealing a moment to cook dinner or play a bad cover of "Fake Plastic Trees" on my guitar... is it worth it?
I go to bed thinking about schoolwork. I wake up thinking about it. I fight with people on Twitter about it and open myself up to criticism--local and national--because of how I want to run class, and how I try to run it everyday. (And by "run it," I mean "let students have control of it as much as possible.")
Sometimes, as I look in the mirror at the multiplying gray hairs in my beard, and as I touch the spot on the crown of my head where hair used to be, which now looks increasingly like I have taken a friar's monastic vow, I wonder.
And that's where it stops.
In years previous, faced with classes of students with personal, home-based, and academic difficulties, I would have largely checked out. I am not proud of this.
In years previous, I didn't have a group of people watching my back and pushing me on to greater things.
In years previous, I didn't have people filling in the gaps of my skill--teaching me how to use structure, how to scaffold lessons up so kids could actually attain heights they never thought they could reach.
In those years, I wouldn't have gotten to be there as what amounts to my academic dream slowly, then suddenly, appeared on a labyrinthine Google Doc right before my eyes.
There were no Cheesebuckets then, not that I knew of, nor would I have considered that I would count among my primary inspirations a Biology teacher in British Columbia and a Chem teacher in South Bend.
And I definitely wouldn't be able to say that the same classes, the difficult ones, would have had their fourth consecutive good day today. I would have never gotten to that tipping point.
The answer, then, CO-llaborators, is yes.
Yes it is worth it. It's worth it because of your friendship, your support, your passion, and your skill. It's worth it because we're better together--as teachers and as people--than we could be apart. It's worth it because I get to see the sunlight slowly start to grace the cheeks of students in classes that were once deeply buried underground, through no fault of their own.