Sarah Brown Wessling, an English teacher at Johnston High School and 2010 National Teacher of the Year, wrote that "teachers must be able to expose all the 'invisible' work we do."
I completely agree.
And her comment made me think of the forest adjacent my school.
Most of this wooded area is owned by the city; two neighborhoods and two roads boarder it; and the forest touches school property. However, it is my school that deals with it, not the city. Since this wooded area is "off" school grounds, a goodly number of students end up in the forest during lunch, or instead of class.
Because of proximity, this forest is part of the school culture. It is an "invisible" that affects our students, and it is an "invisible" that governs what we do during the school day.
Before this school year started, my principal took a group of interested teachers through the forest so we could see what goes on. We went to several of the known spots where students collect. Smoking is the primary past time in these spots as the pile of cigarette butts showed. But there were other disjecta around, tossed by students or others cruising through the forest--little baggies, beer cans, fire pits, and trash.
School time and school resources are spent managing this forest, and the students who wander into it. These students are our students. We have an obligation to keep them safe and in school to learn. But let's be clear--this action is beyond the typical course for a school. When policy makers sit and envision a school day, and come up with what is best for schools, I doubt that they consider "invisibles" like our forest.
Our school will continue to be effective in spite of the forest. Our teachers and school personnel will continue to work hard. We won't give up. I am not complaining about our forest because I know all schools and teachers have their own INVISIBLES.
But I won't pretend that these issues do not exist.
As teachers, we need to do something about the invisibles. Most of these invisibles cannot be changed as they are part of the current state of our education system. However, we need to make the invisibles known. We need to share them so that our communities see the invisibles, and see what we deal with each day. If we do not do this, we do a disservice to education because, Wessling shared, "People don't know what they don't know. And unless we continue to find ways to turn the isolated nature of our schools inside out, teachers will be doomed to misperception and misunderstanding."
Let's not doom the profession of teaching. What "invisibles" do you experience?