When my daughter was four, we were shopping at a local discount clothing store. I heard her little hoarse voice say, “Give me a break lady!” Horrified, I looked down and found her holding a hot pink bedazzled shirt size 14. The lady to whom she was speaking was trying to look at the shirt, and my daughter held on to it like it was the last Oreo in the package.
After apologizing to the lady and explaining shopping etiquette to my daughter, I began to think about that phrase. Give me a break. Clearly, my daughter had heard that phrase from someone, probably me, and saw it as a cry against being minimized. Which is funny because she was minimum sized.
We find ourselves using that idiom when we are at a loss for other words because we are disheartened. In education, teachers need a break from the constantly changing dictates that districts send down to teachers. This leaves the teachers feeling, as my daughter did, minimum sized and minimized. We had not fully implemented the last plan from the previous principal or curriculum head or superintendent. We had just figured out what was expected of us and were starting to like it…or not.
During my 30 years of attending faculty meetings, I have been introduced to a variety of educational concepts. Some of these had to do with discipline and others were curriculum and teaching strategies. Almost every one of them held merit and had correlating research. However, most often these were only allowed a year or two to be successful. By that time, a new idea had swept the nation, and off we went to the new thing. Teachers began to have a lack of trust. We say things such as, “Oh, I will just play along until the next idea.” In other words, we often do the minimum expected until it changes again. This is a learned behavior for the teachers. We don’t dismiss all concepts. We are smart. We see the merit in many of these programs. But we also see the merit in last year’s program. We are the poster children for throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Give us a chance to try on the size 14 shirt. Let’s see if the dazzles stick. You know what? Maybe we can try on pants that match. These new pants contain pockets full of ideas that coordinate with the entire outfit. Let’s outfit our teachers with matching concepts. We don’t want to look like a goofy scarecrow wearing tattered rags of many prints. Give us a break.