Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tenure...dun dun duhhhh

When thinking about going back to school, I have a horrible time NOT making negative predictions about how things might go. Obviously some of my projections for the future are rooted in past experience, i.e. how it always goes. But some of the crazy stuff that my mind concocts both in dreams and waking hours is just pure nerve-inspired BS.

Or is it?

I was having the dreaded "tenure" conversation with a friend/coworker the other day. The teachers I know personally are all in various stages of the tenure game. Some have been tenured forever and have started to take liberties whenever it moves them. Another of my friends is spending her first year in tenure after successfully completing her first day of the new school year. Another is halfway there. And then there's me. Starting at the bottom. Again.

I tend to be kind of nonchalant about the fact that the illusive concept of tenure won't be gracing my doorstep anytime soon. I mean if I do my job and work hard, what will it matter if I'm not tenured? Right?


That's just it, the very reason the conversation of tenure is dreaded. The truth is, the climate amongst your peers and administration can be almost suffocating when you are a non-tenured teacher. (I always assumed that some of the tension might ease up once you're not being observed so constantly and your job is not in continual peril, but maybe those of you teachers who are tenured can correct me.) You walk around feeling genuine feelings and carrying genuine opinions and you are TOLD on a consistent basis to shut you mouth, smile pretty, and fly under the radar. And it happens all of the time.

But oh my gosh who is holding the radar gun and why is it so low to the ground that it is almost impossible to fly under?!?! The idea that teachers would be hired to be professionals, the experts in their field, and then told to keep their mouths closed for 4 years (while their great fresh-from-college techniques fly straight out the window and their naive love/excitement for the children slowly burns out) is just insane to me!

Going back to my intro, part of my delusional fear for the upcoming year has to do with that eerie feeling of being watched and judged rather than admired and congratulated. Now I'm not saying I want a parade for every success (ok I secretly do, but I don't expect them or anything). I just want to feel like I can do something unique without peoples' hearts palpitating with worry about innovative/independent ideas that many seem so threatened by. I want to feel like I can fail with an authority figure IN THE ROOM and they'll write it off to a bad day because everyone has them. I know and am fulling accepting of the fact that someone needs to keep me accountable because what I do is vitally important. But after knowing me, watching me, understanding that I live out that comprehension through word and deed, it shouldn't be something that I'm afraid is constantly in question.


  1. I hear ya, sister! I never teach long enough in one state to get tenured. And now that I've moved to Texas and there is NO tenure for anyone, I'll probably never get tenured ;). It would be nice to have that security, though. Although it's sickening that some teachers out there (clearly not the best among us) use it as an excuse to do nothing...

  2. I agree with your "insane" label for the tenure situation... and don't let anything or anyone keep you from those innovative and independent ideas!

  3. Tenure as it is today needs to go. I just got it this year. Now that I am tenured I can honestly say I think there needs to be another way to ensure that districts don't fire higher paid people because they want to put more inexpensive teachers on the payroll. Tenure has always been such a weird concept for me to understand. Even though I have it I don't get it:)