Rounding Third and Heading Home
With coffee in hand and the left overs of lumpy eggs and fried plantain for breakfast I'm here in Cincinnati taking a moment to reflect on this year, our most recent decisions for the future and what it all means in the scope of teaching, music and raising a family ha ha. We are indeed rounding third friends. This last run of nearly 60 days seems daunting. Jenny and the boys have decided to remain home as they've collectively hit the 'wall' of road tripping. In Kai's words "I hate this RV I never EVER want to ride in this stinky RV again, literally!" ha ha ha our 5 yr old. Over 300 days IN the RV will do that to ya:):)
From the beginning of this experiment we've been questioning our path as a family, career choices and how professional music fits into the process. Many of you fine folks we've talked with know that I've always planned to return to teaching come the Fall semester of '16. But with that said as the music has been generating a strong family income and the adventures and sites on the road feed our souls that too has been put into question. "Can one AFFORD to teach both financially and emotionally?" has been in the forefront of our minds. Now granted I've done it before and the short answer is yes, one CAN afford to teach but what we've learned this year more importantly is that YOU have to provide the necessary outlets and implemented budgets to be successful at it. And by successful I'm referring to a 20-30 year career of teaching.
I don't want this to contradict what we've written in other blogs. I think I've been pretty hard on the process and challenges which face our present teaching community in the past. And though nothing has changed really, if anything it's gotten worse as most recently the TX supreme court ruled AGAINST more than 600 school districts that sued the state over accused violations of our state constitution in funding education.
"The state Supreme Court, which consists of nine Republicans, overturned the key findings of Travis County District Judge John Dietz, a Democrat. The justices disagreed with Dietz’s assertion that the Legislature has provided an inadequate and unsuitable amount of school money, and that the system is “inefficient.” Dietz found that a higher amount of per-pupil spending is needed to meet the state Constitution’s demand for “a general diffusion of knowledge. Teacher groups and leaders accused the justices of preserving their own political futures at the expense of more than 5 million Texas schoolchildren." -The Dallas Morning News/RT Garrett
Wow really TX Supreme Court? You really think that after cutting BILLIONS in our state education's budget we're successfully meeting the needs of our students? Really? Come ooooonnnnnnnnnn already!! In essence no one wants to overturn this path of state neglect as it would cross party lines and put a massive target on legislature which has consistently stood by as our schools struggle to maintain appropriate, least restrictive interventions for students. The State Reps and Gov. Abbott pass it off to the State Supreme Court and the Courts pass it right back, a ping pong game if you will yet teachers, teacher's families and students and their families are getting whacked in the process. And with that the question becomes "How can one NOT teach when the powers that be continue to fail our children?" Thus we teach;) We commit ourselves in working for change within our community. We collectively say "Yes I can make the difference between a child failing or succeeding. Yes I can make the difference between a family feeling lost without options and a family that feels hopeful."
Going back to the "affording to teach" quandary I've learned 3 very important skills needed to persevere in this trade:
#1 Make every moment as fun as possible in teaching and remember working with kids can be ridiculously hilarious even when challenges surface.
#2 Take a moment to breath when the crises becomes too great. Even in the midst of conflict rely on your team to help you in the conflict. Press the 'pause' moment to collect yourself before losing your mind ha ha
#3 Invest completely, I emphasize COMPLETELY, in finding the best outlet to release the stresses beyond your control. I know, I know that sounds way too cliche BUT I'm some what of a half ass on this one. Whether it be swimming, archery, cooking, reading, pet grooming etc. find a release beyond the walls of your classroom. Know that not only are you a BAD ASS TEACHER, but you're also a great ______ (you fill in the blank ha ha).
That's what we've learned friends or at least what we've been reminded in believing that a teacher's efforts do impact great change. And though the realities of limitation exist within this trade it does not excuse the responsibility that many of us feel in teaching. I can say the biggest challenges for me this year while playing music is finding meaningfulness. Yes music can bring one to tears and inspire BUT most importantly it must inspire the very one producing the music ha ha and if it doesn't that's ok, it simply means one finds something greater and more fulfilling. In our case I am a school teacher friends:) I believe that if a child is hurting than an able adult with skills and talents should share those gifts with a child. Come the Fall we're very happy to say that we will once again be back in the classroom:) We'll share more as it gets closer to the Fall but come August old Mr. Wert is back baby ha ha ha.
Well the coffee is getting cold, the lumpy eggs have turned green and we must head to the north for more shows. We're hoping all will go well, yet both the body and voice have been beat down recently with rainy, Spring colds and achey knees. Ha ha I AM much older in my body than my heart after all ha ha. Cheers to you friends. Thank you for your efforts in coming to shows, purchasing albums and shirts. Thank you for emails and texts with invitations to homes, meals and friendship. We will of course continue to play music but more so within the realms of part time as we've been doing for the past 9 years. Regarding the documentary WHEN IT BREAKS I know Todd will continue to film, edit and create and at some point we expect in later 2017 or even early 2018 have something to share. We will of course continue to advocate for SPED awareness at live shows and within the community, but it feels best to once again "walk the walk" within the classroom:)
Cheers and all the best compadres. Feel free to reach out whether it be music, teaching or otherwise. Our last run presently will be bringing us to the great North East, back to Europe and into Canada. All the best and we wish ya peace and good times friends. Cheers YAR YAR YAR-TEACH!