Pizza Day. Pizza Day. Pizza Day. The words replay over and over in six-year-old Tommy’s head as he sees how long the lunch line is. Tommy grabs his pizza and sprints to his lunch table, carrots spilling off of his tray. Glancing at the clock but unsure what the clock hands actually signify, he knows there can’t be much time left. Trying not to talk to his peers, Tommy stuffs a large bite of gooey deliciousness into his mouth. Before he can swallow or enjoy his favorite meal, he takes another bite and a gulp of milk.
“Time to clean up!” the lunch aide announces.
Tommy’s classmates throw out their partially eaten lunches and line up. With his stomach still rumbling, Tommy quickly stuffs another bite into his mouth. As I approach Tommy, I glance at the clock, knowing that in less than two minutes, one hundred hungry third graders will bombard the cafeteria for their lunch period. I gaze back at Tommy and my subtle nod lets him know he can sneak his lunch back to class. Sarah’s desperate eyes ask me the same question and I must tell her “no,” as her teacher for afternoon intervention services is anxiously waiting for her at the door. Sarah is already late.
Tommy carries his lunch through the hallway, hoping it won’t spill, as the next group of children rush past him to get to their brief lunch period, all feeling the pressure of academic rigor, the jam-packed schedule, and the ever-present tests. It’s a typical lunch hour at my school.
I entered the teaching profession six years ago– energized, enthusiastic, and eager to put my passion into practice. I currently teach in an upper-middle class town in the greater Boston area. Since graduating college, I have earned a Master’s Degree from a renowned school of education. Through my experience and studies, I have honed my core beliefs as an educator. But, on a daily basis, I find myself internally battling with what I know is best for children and what I am mandated to do.
My intent in writing is to raise awareness of what is going on in the public school system where our students are increasingly being taught in testing environments with stakes higher than ever before, under high pressure conditions. While the stress among schools is glaring for teachers, administrators, and even students, I have learned that the link often left in the dark is the parents. Read more>>