After school today we had a department meeting. After some sharing of announcements, we got into an intense discussion concerning scheduling changes for the entire middle school. There were issues concerning the hours for Humanities classes being cut and a block schedule instituted. There was discussion concerning an empty day in the week to accommodate an even number of days for a block schedule to work. This empty day would be used for “clubs” and it was unclear for what else. It was reported that the scheduling committee was listening to lots of voices all wanting more time which consequently would eat away at the time spent on Humanities classes. We all agreed that already there was not enough time to teach (English and History) and any loss of time would be a detriment to the quality of the work we could do with kids.
Usually I am a pretty vocal participant in discussions with my colleagues. I respect their wisdom and love to be challenged and pushed by their ideas and observations. But today, it was like I was on the ceiling looking down. In large part, this is because I will be retiring after one more year of teaching and any change in the schedule will happen the year after I leave. But it was also in part being fascinated with the way the conversation was evolving and who was pushing it and where. I was watching the group evolve and align itself in an organic and complex choreography. I felt outside it all. I had let go. I had no skin in the game.
I don’t know if this was a healthy response or not. Certainly if I had had some earth-shattering insight to share, I would have. But nothing I was thinking felt that important. It was clear to me that there was a big political issue to fight out, but I had no compulsion to weigh in. My colleagues seemed very well tooled and ready to do battle. Their arguments were reasoned, coherent, considered. How well they would be listened to may be out of their control but they were preparing a compelling case for maintaining adequate time for Humanities as time that was not negotiable.
And I was feeling compelled to release the “sturm und drang” of the politics of school, assured that the colleagues I work with have everything under control. Though I have always enjoyed a challenging negotiation, it was liberating to feel that this was not my fight and it was liberating to know that there were those still passionately involved in it.