Imagine being in water fifteen feet deep, your arms are getting tired, and your feet can no longer help you maintain buoyancy. You begin to panic; your heart races; you desperately grasp for air. Nothing must be more frightening than those first moments a person realizes they are drowning. Those moments just before panic sets in. Those moments when you begin to question all the decisions that brought you to this place in time. Panicked you grasp for someone, something, anything to hold you above water, if you could just have one more second of footing, something solid to sustain you. Just then a Good Samaritan shows up to attempt to help, desperately you lunge you grab, you pull, you will do anything to get out of your current situation. The Samaritan has to make a choice back off and wait for a trained lifeguard, or attempt rescue and risk becoming a second victim.
While training for lifeguard certification my senior year in HS I admittedly do not remember much (except for maybe the school issued Speedos the entire gym class was mandated to wear). One thing I do remember though is “drowning people panic.” Panicking people do not think. They do not recognize help. Rescuing a flailing victim is almost impossible.
Being in a school that does not seem to embrace the same educational philosophy as you do must be similar to drowning, First you are swimming thinking you can ride out the progressive thought in the school, then you realize you are slowly being left behind. You grow tired. Occasionally you lash out (outwardly criticize colleague for “buying into” the philosophy or as some say, "drinking the Kool Aid"or playing around at "Camp Quest") , you begin to grab and grasp at things you thought were solid non-negotiable educational standards (tracking, the “teacher vs. student mentality, departments, mixed cohort classes, homogeneous ability level classes for certain subjects). Others will attempt to throw out lines (Professional Development, Critical Friends Groups, and open Small Learning Community discussions) however you fight them off. You acuse “them”(people who seem to be swimming) of not understanding you. You claim your needs outweigh anything “they” have to offer. You reach and grab for something. If I could just get this one tracked class, if I could just have that one class without so many students that need my help. I was a good teacher. You start to think, “These people are just doing this wrong. This progressive crap will eventually pass. Come on guys lets face it we are really just a department. Eventually this community stuff will just pass. Soon we will be just like every other school. Just wait until they see my regents grades.”
Victims must realize when they are drowning and stop flailing their arms and let Samaritans help . Swimmers must listen for those who are already panicking, and spouting negativity and avoid being pulled down by their desperate grasping. Above all else we must remember these are our colleagues both swimmer and non-swimmer. The panicking victims and the trained lifeguards are both trying. We are all in the same small school, we all have so much more to learn.