“I am currently on a sabbatical after ten long, arduous years teaching in Philadelphia public schools. The timing was perfect, as I was feeling like a flat tire and in serious need of some space and perspective. I could fill a book with stories from over the years. The plot and characters would be unbelievable to some and probably denied by others. I’d call it A Decade in the Trenches. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m using this time now for some honest reflection, to restore my own art practice, and to volunteer my skills in another high-need part of the world, Honduras.

What makes me feel strong inside? Tackling a good challenge makes me feel strong. Having lasted so long in such a broken system has made me feel strong, much of the time. At other times, I have felt defeated. My unending ambivalence has lead me to reconsider what a good challenge entails. I enjoy hard work and seeing the fruits of my labor. I am proud of what I have accomplished in each of the schools I have taught. I’m incredibly grateful for what teaching has taught me. I’ve also been daunted by the insurmountable weight of the expectations dropped on teachers and with such little regard and respect. Sometimes it feels like the only people fighting for teachers are teachers and we are exhausted.

A good challenge for me now still involves hard work but it means having conditions about where and how I invest my time and energy. This means having the strength to say no and to avoid becoming entangled in someone else’s convoluted web. It means limiting the amount of time I spend explaining or trying to be understood and validated. I have more important work to do at this point in my life.”

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