I never paid much attention to the whole concept of "workplace morale". To me, morale only mattered in situations where you might live or die; where flight was a viable option. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a very private person about certain things, that I'm a big fan of the "Shut the fuck up and do your job" school of thought. After the first couple weeks of this school year, though, I'm not so certain anymore.
I've never seen employee morale so low in a workplace before. The feeling has become almost palpable. It's manifesting itself in anger, frustration, sometimes even apathy. And these aren't slackers I'm talking about; these are talented, dedicated, intelligent, caring people. These aren't only teachers; these are educators--yes, there's a difference. Many of us are getting the message that we are unappreciated. Not underappreciated, but simply UNappreciated. Not undervalued, but UNvalued. Teachers don't work for the money. Even the village idiot knows that. The best of us do what we do because it matters to us. We certainly have our perks, but the fact of the matter is that 99% of teachers in America are underpaid. I believe John F. Kennedy said it best when he said
Rampant hypocrisy only exacerbates the issue; how many times will we have to listen to people say how "important, essential and valuable" we are while refusing to deal fairly with us? There's a powerful emotional undercurrent in the building right now. It's almost as if Howard Beale might show up on the morning announcements at any time screaming "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!!!"
At the very least, I owe them the same. I believe I owe them more. These kids have done more for me than they can possibly understand. How can I work solely in my own interests when the Class of 2008 gave me a reason to come to work every day last year? How can I turn my back on a group of kids who are the prime--probably the only--reason I still work in my current district? Next year may be a different story, but I've promised myself that I'll see this group walk that stage, no matter what happens.
It's funny to me that people always focus on the "teacher's impact upon the student". We read countless essays, articles and human interest pieces about "The Teacher that Changed my Life!" It's all good--but it's only half the story. What about the kids that kept that teacher teaching? What about the kids that make us come to work every day?
Hopefully, things will get better before they get worse. In all honesty, I don't think they will. I just hope I never have to choose between my livelihood and my students.
Take care of yourselves.