A Cure for Miss Zombie

Written by Amelia

Immediately after officially resigning from my job, my thought process went something like this:

HowdoIfeel? HowdoIfeel? HowdoIfeel? OHMYGOD…HowdoIfeel?

My internal answer was that I felt great and, against all logic, I felt safe. After teaching for seven years at a private residential school whose children I love and in whose mission I believe, the decision to quit my job was about as easy as self-amputation.

Most of my reasons for leaving have to do with the the fact that every school year I feel more and more like a standardized test zombie infecting all of my students with a mind-numbing virus that makes them stop asking “Why?” and “How?” and start asking, “So, is the right answer B or D?” and “Am I basic or proficient?”

That feeling of post-resignation safety caught me seriously off guard. Until that moment, I hadn’t truly realized how anxious I was, how tightly clenched my jaw was, and how furrowed my brow had been. For years. My blood pressure went from 150/110 to 118/70. Literally.

If my ninth graders come to my class not knowing how to read and leave a year later in the same state, I have wasted a year that they desperately need. That’s a heavy thing for one person to carry around. And now, although I feel disloyal to my students, I don’t have to carry that around anymore.

I know I’ve made the right decision. What will I do now? I’ll get married a week after my last day of school, my mister and I will go on our honeymoon, then I’ll come back to “real life,” work on my Etsy shop, and get a part-time job. One that doesn’t involve any multiple choice questions where everyone is proficient.

5 comments for “A Cure for Miss Zombie

  1. Cathy
    June 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    It is the test-taking virus that has infected all of education. How sad that such a gifted, creative teacher was one of its many victims. Good luck to you and may your decision reap many rewards!

  2. June 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    I agree on all counts. Perhaps the tests aren’t entirely to blame but rather the way they are being used. Because there is too much pressure on teachers and students, it is changing the entire culture of education in this country. We have a “will this be on the test” culture of students who see learning as a means to an end (the end being an unequivocal correct answer) rather than a process or a journey to greater understanding. It’s really sad.

  3. Amelia
    June 13, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    You’re right, Emily. The tests aren’t the worst part. Tests can provide important information about a child’s progress that is helpful to parents, students, teachers, and administrators. It’s the crazy stakes tied to the tests (losing summer vacation, missing out on electives, after-school “remediation”) that are the problem.

  4. Miranda
    June 14, 2012 at 2:17 am

    I love and respect you for your decision, and so wish I was brave enough and able (although somewhat relative, I guess) to take the same stand as you right now. Had our job been so focused on the test when I started, I would have never stayed. In fact, after I did my student teaching in public school, I decided I was never going to teach…that it was not what I dreamed it would/should be. I simply could not deal with the politics I observed and mourned the time, effort and dreams I invested in my education. But, when I came to this school, I was instantly at home and fell in love with the kids, the mission, the people, the fun, the sense of adventure, the independence, the questioning minds of the students and their experiences, the sense of family and of dedication. Although most of this is probably permanently lost, I still hang on to a tiny piece of hope that, someday, our leaders will realize that what we lost is not worth what we have “gained”.

  5. June 14, 2012 at 2:22 am

    You can leave school knowing that you’ve positively impacted hundreds of students — and the tests can’t take that from you!

    (Natalie)

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