We Need to Quit Complaining, and I'm Going to Complain about It

<The Imposter Teacher                                                                                                                                                            The Dials on the Dashboard>

A spring break that was fully recharging, warm sun and T-shirt weather rapidly approaching, and an uninterrupted week of quality instruction was exactly what I needed.


And exactly what I didn't get. 


Immediately upon returning from Spring Break, R-M school was hit with not just another winter blast but also an intense wave of standardized testing. 


Do you think it's possible to make the legal case that I have a right to my class time with my students?


I have students on my roster that I haven't seen for two weeks now.


The remaining students that I have advocate for "free days" with the rationale that they don't want their peers to miss anything.


I call B.S. But even so, we all know the rule about arguing with idiots.


I'm sorry, let me rephrase that. Arguing with people being idiots. See, even my word filter is broken.


These low attendance, frigid cold days, drain the energy and lead to a downward spiral. I'm here to tell my teacher friends, it's real. And they're here saying, "You're preaching to the choir, Barbercheck."


I don't like to complain. Not one bit. My despise for complaints grew as my leadership experience grew. From Boy Scouts, to SAE Baja, to teaching I realized that complainers were, at best, defining a problem in an unproductively negative light, and at worst, well, complaining.


Funny thing is these complaints are never valid enough for the complainer to actually do any actual action to fix the problem. At one point I considered making "We need...," a banished phrase and require it to be replaced with "I'm going to..." For example, if:


"We need to make sure people start showing up on time," or

"We need more money," or

"We need to be able to do whatever we want"


...was to be uttered, it would have to turn into:


"I'm going to show up on time. I'm going to bring a teammate so they show up on time."

"I'm going to XYZ company for a sponsorship"

"I'm going to pitch my idea in a way where you can't say no to letting me do this specific thing I want."




I'm going to quit teaching because everything we need to do is just too much for me.


Just kidding...about the quitting part.


But for now:


I'm going to use my God-given platform to model what amazing magic happens when you leave a classroom mostly unregulated, assessment is in the work itself, and process is valued over product.


I'm going to remember that my B.S. arguing students are a very small minority of the population and that their intentions are not evil.


I'm going to continue to work towards content that is preferred over a "free-day."


I'm going to not beat myself into hopelessness when I fail creating that content.


I'm going to accelerate global warming so this April winter doesn't happen again.


 Just kidding. That's a joke. Trump already used that one? Gosh dang't. You know, we really need to-


...I mean.... I'm going to not follow his Twitter.


And, I'm going to build a fricken' snow man after this snow storm hits. And it's going to have a stupidly big grin on his face. 

<The Imposter Teacher                                                                                                    The Dials on the Dashboard>

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Comments: 4
  • #1

    seth s (Sunday, 15 April 2018 12:57)

    best article ever ��

  • #2

    Mr. Barbercheck (Tuesday, 17 April 2018 08:10)

    Haha, thanks, Seth!

  • #3

    Mike Woodruff (Saturday, 21 April 2018 10:31)

    Hi Matthew – is certainly not alone in protesting the amount of testing. I didn't realize how bad it was until about seven years ago when I started playing some music with a friend who teaches middle school science. I asked him what he needed to do a better job – thinking of course it would be "stuff" I could contribute so he could buy some materials. What he said as he needed time felt like all he did was prepare students for tests, supervise tests and be evaluated by tests. There's a very strong movement currently in Florida, mounted primarily by parents, to change the amount of required state testing. I don't know how far it will get in our legislature. Florida has some very strange ideas about how to measure accountability for schools and teachers. For example, bonuses are given based on how well teachers scored on their SATs and/or GREs. That makes about as much sense as picking your physician based how well she did the Medical College Admissions Test. Hang in there it'll probably get warm in the UP in another two months.

  • #4

    Matthew Barbercheck (Saturday, 21 April 2018 17:07)

    Hey Mike!

    It got warm today. Over 50 degrees! I'm in a much better mood.

    The whole testing industry is a nightmare of poor logic and bad habits. My hope is that the kids I teach will someday see flaws as such before they even come to fruition and accept that things don't have to be done just because, "That's how we've always done it."