Day 57: Today was the first day I missed school all year. However, it was for a pretty neat opportunity. I was in Washington, D.C. all day meeting with Massachusetts’ congressmen discussing my experience as a teacher, and specifically as a science teacher who came from a science background (I studied Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry in college).
First and foremost, it must be admitted that I acted like I was 12 the entire time. I took lots of pictures. I stared a lot. I got irrationally excited when John Boehner walked by … and holy crap the man is bright orange! I felt like I was playing dress-up all day. I kept wanting to grab the nearest person and yell, “I’m a teacher! I shouldn’t be wearing fancy clothes and talking to important people! I fooled you! HA!”
Second, it was, as I’m sure one might guess, a highly cool opportunity. I met three representatives. I got to talk in a meaningful way about why I love my job, and about why teaching science both is important and presents unique challenges – namely, actually knowing science, and creating authentic hands-on experiences for kids in the face of limited resources. All day, I was flattered these incredibly busy elected officials and their staffs were so respectful, took the time to listen, and shared their appreciation for my work.
Third and finally, I did come away still feeling like my ultimate place is not in the policy world. Capitol Hill definitely seemed interesting, fast-paced and challenging – all things that I look for. And I was thoroughly impressed with how genuine everyone I met was. That said, I also wasn’t sure how much my words and these lawmakers’ intentions could be translated into help for my kids. I felt like I heard a lot of caution regarding getting work done in the midst of deadlock and, of course, an imminent fiscal cliff.
I can only hope that at some point in my career, I am doing something worth talking about. But for me, today, I see my place in the “doing something” sphere more than in the “talking about” arena. I like the gratification I get when I see my decisions translate quickly to student achievement. That may be the impatience of a relatively young guy talking. But for now, that is how I feel.