The Year’s Beginning: Miss Perky

This is the first year that I’ve been christened by a student in September, versus christening them.

But… Miss Perky? I think the fact that this moniker’s just a shade off from Miss Piggy might be upsetting me subconsciously.

However I also wonder if it is a sign of the general tenor of the building this year. “There’s plenty of… new,” my Health colleague comments in the hall, restrainedly.

And there is, about which I have much bloggéd. New York State is a Race to the Top recipient, and has signed on full bore to the Common Core. We have new evaluation systems, new paperwork, new assessments, new meeting loads, a new online grading system, and a new contract. And while much of this is based in simple good teaching practice (for example, the systematic review of student performance in the program Response to Intervention), much is not.

And all of it, like new wine into old wineskins, is being poured into a spatial and temporal infrastructure which will likely not support it without significant change.

Which explains why my Math team colleague, with a new baby, has dark circles down to her chin, and why my Science colleague is already fretting about lagging behind in her curriculum, not two full weeks into school. And why I am Miss Perky, perhaps.

I don’t know why I’m Miss Perky to these guys.  It might be because I consciously refused to give up the Ten Days Kickoff  Unit, which does not race to the first quiz, but is all about multiple intelligence surveys, reading interviews, procedures for using bean bags while reading independently, and co-writing behavioral contracts and communication guidelines. It might be because despite the implications of low value-added scores in New York, I have finally grown enough to acquire the rhythm of clown, colleague and critic to which seventh graders respond with trust.

And it might be because– for reasons as yet mysterious to me–I still can have my day completely turned around by the fact that Jack and I hit on a perfect book for him on the first try, or by all of us enjoying the clear, cool fall rain falling on the bus circle.

Or, indeed, I admit somewhat grumpily, by being called Miss Perky.

Krista Tippett writes in her book Speaking of Faith that after a long depressive period, she was amazed at her capacity to still feel joy. It is stronger, and fiercer, she writes: but it still comes.

That’s the way it is with teachers who have it in their bones, I think. Joy still comes, even now.



2 thoughts on “The Year’s Beginning: Miss Perky

  1. The people demand more posts on The Line. It has been more than a month and we have not heard from you.


  2. Sigh. Working on it, Chris. You’re very kind. I’ll be frank and say that I haven’t been saying much because I haven’t had much that is nice to say this year, and I am very, very tired. But I am working on a blockbuster post with a professor at Columbia U. Not sure what form it will take yet, but it’s taking some very long and in depth discussion to develop. Once it’s up, I hope the block will lift.

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