"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Assessing the Model: A KIPP Teacher Speaks of Her Nervous Breakdown and Post-KIPP Recovery, Part 3

"I would say that working at KIPP was the most horrible experience of my life. I would tell people that, I would tell a friend especially that the message is good with KIPP, that you want to send all kids to and through college. But it is at such great personal sacrifice that it’s—it crushed me. I would encourage anyone else to just stop. It wasn’t even getting fired that was the worst thing for me. It was knowing that I was told that if the kids didn’t go to college, that it was my fault. I just think that anybody else who wants to do good could do better good at their own school rather than destroy themselves by working at KIPP."  --Jane 

Part 3 of my conversation with Jane begins with recalling the painful last meeting with the KIPP principal.  She concludes this final segment of our interview with her own assessment of the KIPP teaching model.  Find here Part 1 and Part 2.

JANE: So then in the end, he’d [the school leader] said, you know, how does that look when you come to school all stressed out and you haven’t showered and all of that? How do you think that looks? You're supposed to be the kids’ leader. And I felt like, here I was killing myself for my kids and then he was resentful of the way that I was looking. I am so broken. Jim, I am so broken. And I was not when I started. I was full of hope. And I really wanted to be helpful. And I had all these great ideas. I only brought my car full of stuff from _________, and I packed it full of stuff for my classroom, only brought, like, a box full of clothes, and everything else was for my classroom. And I got out here and I worked so hard for so many hours. And I only, KIPP paid me with my masters degree. I don't know if this is important for you to know. $48,000. And they promised me, like, I was going to get this $500 bonus and all sorts of other stuff. And that never really came through. Like, it was disappointing very early on about pay and stuff like that. And then I come to find out that I did all this extra work and I really only got paid $4,000 more if I got all the bonuses and everything. . . . .[not that different from] school teachers down the street, and their school day is over at 3:00. You know, I just felt like –

INTERVIEWER: So you were promised money that you never got?

JANE: Oh, yeah. To be very specific, this is what happened. Because we teach so many English language learners, you need, they want everybody to take this test for structured English immersion. And so I had the credential in _________ for it, but it didn’t carry over. They wanted me to take this test. So I looked it up and I really could only take it during school time. And so I emailed the principal and I was, like, well, what day do I take this test? HR says I need to take it by October. And he was, like, oh, those dates don’t work. How about you take it one of these days? And he gives me a list. So I pick one. And I pay for the test and all that. And I’m supposed to get $500 for when I pass this test. So I take the test and then I get this email, or before I take the test, I get this email that says, everybody needs to take the test by the 14th, or whatever it is, if you want this bonus for this year. And I was, like, what? School Leader told me to take it on the 28th. And he was, like, oh, no. I just meant that it was so that you could be highly qualified for here. I’m not concerned about your stipend. And I was, like, but you, but I am. You know? You made it sound like, and I pulled up all the emails. And I’m, like, you said this. And he was, like, well, it’s just a very unfortunate misunderstanding. And I know $500 to a principal is probably not a huge deal. But it was to me. And he knew it. So that was just one. Then you're supposed to get this $2,000 bonus at the end of the year. And they calculate it into your KIPP salary. But it’s not a guarantee and you don’t find that out until you start working, that it’s all based on, you know, students’ paychecks.

Paychecks are based on levels of compliance by students to KIPP expectations and demands.  Students may cash their KIPP paychecks for KIPP school store items or for other benefits related to school trips. Jane found out that her bonus would depend upon how much her students had earned on their paychecks.

A connection glitch happened at this point, and a second interview session was scheduled some days later.

INTERVIEWER: So we were talking about after you had left KIPP and how you were feeling about that. If a friend of yours were thinking about applying to work at KIPP and they came to you and asked you, well, I know that you worked there, Jane, tell me what it was like, what would you say?

JANE: I would say that working at KIPP was the most horrible experience of my life. I would tell people that, I would tell a friend especially that the message is good with KIPP, that you want to send all kids to and through college. But it is at such great personal sacrifice that it’s—it crushed me. I would encourage anyone else to just stop. It wasn’t even getting fired that was the worst thing for me. It was knowing that I was told that if the kids didn’t go to college, that it was my fault. I just think that anybody else who wants to do good could do better good at their own school rather than destroy themselves by working at KIPP.

INTERVIEWER: How would you compare your teaching experience at KIPP with your other teaching experience?

JANE: When I was at any of my other schools that I taught at, I felt like my ideas were important and they were listened to, that I felt confident with my teaching and I felt like I was reaching the students, and that the principals had, that they valued me. And when I got to KIPP, it was completely different. I felt like my ideas were discarded because, one time the principal even told me, like, I’d like to see you try. And it wasn’t really a challenge. He was just telling me, like, that’s not going to work. We hired you because you're inventive and innovative and clever and dedicated. But they really just wanted me to sit down and make worksheets and make sure that the kids were obedient. Even doing that is difficult and it’s exhausting. And I just felt like when I was at my other schools, that when I was teaching, I was inspired. And when I was at KIPP, you really just, it’s about numbers and about making sure that the kids are ready to pass their standardized testing. And it’s just drill and kill to make sure that they are answering multiple choice questions correctly.

When I was at my other schools, I could, for instance, ... I would give them practice. I would figure out who’s having trouble, keep them after school, and all of that. And at KIPP, I just never could get that done because they really just wanted to see the kids answer the questions in multiple choice format. And I hope I’m not, you know, that I’m being direct. I feel like, KIPP has deadlines for when they expect kids to know certain things. For instance, they have certain standards that they want met at first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, and by the time they take the state test. And at my other school, I had all year to make sure that the kids knew everything that they needed to learn. So at my school when a kid didn’t, let's say, understand __________, I could work with them and review and spiral it in to make sure that everybody knew by the end of the year. But at KIPP, I got a lot of pressure because there were 25% of the kids that didn’t understand _______________ very well at the end of quarter one. But I was, like, oh, well, we’ll work on it next quarter. But I was under a lot of scrutiny. And that’s when I started, you know, the principals were coming in or the principal would come in with video cameras and take notes and leave insulting things on my desk like, I see that you're still having trouble with pacing. Maybe you could talk to your department head about that. Like, I just didn’t have anybody who believed in me or thought that I was going to be successful at the end of the year. And that’s something that was totally different than at my last school. The last two schools that I’ve taught at, before KIPP, those principals just, I knew that they believed in me. And this one, he did not. And I don't think that it was necessarily, he and I got along fine. It wasn’t a personality conflict or anything like that. I really don’t know what it was. Maybe it was the numbers from the first IA. But I didn’t feel like I could be, have any craft with my teaching, that it was all about drill and kill and doing it in this particular KIPP way.

INTERVIEWER: Right, and according to a particular schedule, right?

JANE: Right, a very strict schedule.

INTERVIEWER: I think you told me last time that you’d been named teacher of the year where you were teaching before –

JANE: Yes. Out here in ____________, I was, ___________ County is one of the largest counties in all of _____________. And that’s where I lived. And I was named one of three county finalists for __________ County First Year Teacher of the Year. And that was in 20__. And so, yes.

INTERVIEWER: If I followed you through a typical day at KIPP, what would I see you doing?

JANE: You want me to take you through my whole routine, Jim, from the beginning to the end?

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, if you don’t mind.

JANE: Sure, sure. I would get to work at 5:00 in the morning because we had only two photocopiers. And we needed to make sure that every day the kids had what they needed right away. So I would get there at 5:30, and I would print out what the kids needed. And that could take about half an hour. So by 6:00, I was in my classroom. I’d get attendance, things like that. And I would get the boards ready. Usually an administrator like a principal or an assistant principal would come in and check to see, they look around the room or something like that. And the other teachers would come by and give little announcements and things like that. At 7:00, actually was 7:05, the students were released to our classroom. And we would start what we called in advisory. So the students would come to advisory and they were to sit down and silently read during this time, but they didn’t want to. So I was always walking around, making sure that they had their books out, their agendas out, things like that. At 7:20 school started. I would take the kids, they had to be lined up, ready to go at 7:20 on the dot. 7:21 I would get an email or something like that, like, I was late. I had to be on time to the minute. I would line the kids up before 7:20. They had to be leaving the classroom at 7:20 in a straight, silent line. They would need to go to the cafeteria, which, it was quite a walk, maybe, like, I don't know, but maybe, like, an eighth of a mile or something like that. And we would walk to the cafeteria. They needed to be straight. They needed to be silent. The principal would watch this every day, and he would make sure that they were like that. And if we weren’t, we were in trouble. The kids, I would check for dress code, things like that.

Breakfast, they would come back from and they’d have to be straight and silent. They’d come back from breakfast with their trays at about 7:30, 7:40. They were to eat breakfast in silence and read silently. And this would go until about 8:30. And then from eight, like, 8:25 I believe, they would have to be straight and silent and transition to their next class, where I would watch them do that. Then they’d go through periods one, two, and three where they were, technically, they were 70 minutes, but because we had these strict transition things with straight and silent and all of this, the classes ended up being more like 55 minutes. So during the course of the class, I was held to a really straight schedule as well. I had five minutes to--they called it an opening. But it was really about getting the kids to come in, take out their agendas, do their “do first” or start their “do first,” all that sort of stuff. I was to take attendance, you know, address any sort of quick things. I also had to go around and sign agendas. It was really rushed. But I had five minutes to do that. And then I had an opening which was supposed to take no more than five minutes. It was supposed to be my hook for the kids. Then I had ten minutes of, like, a modeled instruction, like, this is what we’re learning. And I would explain it to them. And then I was supposed to do another ten minutes of guided practice where we would do it all together, then another ten minutes of independent practice where the students were supposed to be silent and working. Then I was to have a five-minute closure, and then a five-minute, five-to ten-minute exit ticket. And then the kids were to line up and go to their next class and all of that. So it was really regimented. I was supposed to collect these exit tickets and compile data during the time. Like, it was very regimented.

Then after I taught three classes, I was to escort the kids to their art class or their PE class, whatever they were supposed to do. And then that would be my prep. During my first prep, twice a week, we had department meetings, or not department meetings, it was grade level meetings. So that would take two preps a week. And then another prep during the week, the assistant principal would come in and we would go over an agenda that I created. It was called an O3 meeting. And we would talk about, basically about where the students need to be, where, how far behind they were, and what I needed to do to pick them up to speed. So then I would go pick up the kids. And I would take them back to lunch. And then, where I had to monitor them all through the lunch. Like, they were not allowed to sit where they wanted. We had to pick out their seats. And then we had to make sure that they sat where we told them to sit. Sometimes we had detention duty.

We would rotate, where the kids would be silent. They couldn’t talk. They couldn’t do anything. They just had to sit and eat. And you had to make sure that they were doing it. We also had to write a letter sometimes. There were reasons you had to write a letter.  But we didn’t get any, like the kids weren’t allowed to, like, play or anything like that. It was my job to make sure that they were all, you know, quiet. And then they have, like, really regimented levels of noise. So they’re silent, which is no talking, quiet, which is the people around you can hear you. And they were to remain quiet. And then I would take the kids back from lunch to their other elective, which they didn’t pick, but it would be, so if they had art, they would go to PE, or theater or whatever else they had during the day. And then we would have meetings or whatever else we needed to do. Then I would pick them up and I would take them to their last class. So I would end with my advisory, the class that ate breakfast with me. I would have them last. And then it would be the same routine. Then I would line the kids up. They would need to be straight and silent to go line up at the buses. So we would walk them. And that was even farther away than the cafeteria. That was probably, like, a quarter of a mile. And the kids had to walk quickly.

INTERVIEWER: What time did they line up for the buses?

JANE: 4:20. 4:20. Well, they would start lining up in the classroom at 4:10. But they needed to be leaving the classroom and out toward the buses at 4:20. So then they would go to the bus. And then I was to get on the bus and make sure that they were seated and doing what they were supposed to do and stuff like that. And then I would get off the bus, and I would, we were instructed to wave to the kids until they couldn’t see us anymore. And so that took about ten minutes. And then we would walk back to the classroom. So now it would be about 4:30 when the kids were dropped off. We’d walk back to the classroom. And if it was a Wednesday, then we would have staff development meetings from, I mean, those could be two to three hours. Or if it was any other day, then we’d go back to the classroom. And what I would do is, I would compile the data from the exit ticket. I would organize the classroom. And I would try to see with the pacing guide what we would need to address the next day.

I’d also try to get my, like, a rough guide of the lesson, like, what would be my independent practice. It had to be in these really specific time chunks. I would try to get that done at work. Usually that would take, because, you know, there’s still people around. Oh, and I also, on Mondays and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or, Mondays, Tuesdays, and sometimes Thursdays, I would also have tutoring. And so if the kid didn’t get on the bus, they waited for us in the PE space. I would tutor them until 5:30 and then start everything I’m telling you about. So I forgot about that tutoring. So I had kids from 7:00 until 5:30 a few days a week. And then, so most days, I would get like a rough draft of my lesson plan, a rough draft of what I needed. And I would leave KIPP at about, between 8:30 and 9:00 at night. And then we were in the middle of nowhere. It was a little scary, so I didn’t like to stay there too late. And I would come home. I would get home between 9:00 and 9:30. And then I would make the documents that the kids would be using the next day. So I would try to make everything at home so that when I came back to work in the morning, I could photocopy it in the morning. And that was my day.

INTERVIEWER: And when did you have dinner?

JANE: I skipped dinner most nights, but sometimes my roommate would make it and she would keep it in the fridge. And I’d eat dinner around 10:00 at night and go to bed. If she made dinner, then I would eat it. And if she didn’t, then I wouldn’t. So it wasn’t very consistent. And I’d go to bed most nights, I’d try to go to bed before midnight. . . . Sometimes I wasn’t successful. But that was the goal.

INTERVIEWER: And you were up then, 4:30?

JANE: No, I’d leave the house at 4:30. I was up at 4:17. I’m sorry that, like, I know that. Like, 4:17, it seemed to be, like, the time that I could maximize before I really needed to leave. Also, I know, you were so kind to me when we spoke last time. I’m still feeling very sensitive. But it was probably around, like, October where I just stopped taking regular showers, because I really wanted to get 20 more minutes of sleep. So I would wake up at 4:37 and then get ready in ten minutes and go to work. So I was really deteriorating rapidly. And that was hard on me.
. . . .
INTERVIEWER: And what about homework?

JANE: Homework was, we were told that we had to give homework every single night, 30 minutes of homework, but that we only had to grade two assignments from homework a week. So we had discretion when we wanted to do that. I would always take graded work home with me. I rarely graded at school. It was just, we were too busy. Sometimes the homework would be like, I would have them do these things in these interactive notebooks. . . . I would get away with only grading those a couple of times a week. But the assistant principal didn’t really like that. He told me, no, he wanted to see my, he wanted homework to be returned instantly. Like, so if the kids, if I was grading Tuesday night’s homework, he wanted it returned to them on Wednesday. Did I answer your question? I feel like I might be a little bit scattered. And I apologize.

INTERVIEWER: No, no. You're doing fine. I’m listening and you're doing excellently.
JANE: We also had other things. I don't know if this matters. But, like, we had other guidelines. We had bulletin boards outside of our classroom that needed to be updated once a month. I had a calendar. He was very specific about what day that the bulletin boards were due and what time. So it was, like, the first Monday of every month, you needed to have a brand-new bulletin board displayed. And it was due by 7:00 AM. And once a month, we also had parent night, which were really strange, because we would have, the students whose parents were coming to parent night, those kids would stay and eat dinner in our classrooms at, like, 5:30. And then the parents would come . . . .. But we would be with the students then until 7:00 at night. And oftentimes, these parent nights would be, so, like, bulletin boards are due on a Monday. Parent nights are on Tuesdays, probably one a month. And all grades are due Wednesday morning at 7:00 AM every week. And progress reports go home every Thursday at, during your advisory. So if you were, let's say, oftentimes parent nights would end at 9:00 PM. And that would be on a Tuesday night. But my grades are due at 7:00 in the morning on Wednesday.

I’m just trying to show you. Like, you had asked about the schedule and things. I had students with me until 9:00 at night, and I still had grades that needed to get put in by the next day at 7:00 AM. I just don’t know how, it just was, I don't know how anyone can keep up that schedule for a long time. I don't have, I gave up everything to go to teach at KIPP. I had no boyfriend. I had no family. I didn’t even bring my cat. And I would completely overwhelm. I had no time at all during the day really for anything but KIPP.

INTERVIEWER: How’s your cat doing?

JANE: He’s fine. I get to visit him. He’s here in _________ with my mom. He’s adorable.

INTERVIEWER: That’s great. Can you describe a significant experience you had at KIPP?

JANE: A significant experience?

JANE: Like, a good one or, are you looking for anything –

INTERVIEWER: The question is intentionally vague because you can take it in any direction you want.

JANE: OK. Well, a significant moment. Probably –

INTERVIEWER: Let me ask you this way perhaps. Can you talk about, I want to ask you both sides of this question. Can you talk about a high point and a low point during your time at KIPP?

JANE: Yes, I can do that. High point of my time was, it was early on in the school year, August. And the principal invited me to coffee. And he, it was during one of my preps. And we went and he paid. I just felt at that point that he really did value me. And he was, like, how are you? I want to make sure you're successful. You know? We were so selective to choose you. And I just felt so, like my whole life had led up to this point that I felt, you know, just valued and appreciated and that he was watching and that he believed in me. And I felt like, I think that was the high point for me. Just, he spent like an hour with me. And I know he’s busy. He took that time because he wanted to check on me. And I felt valuable.

But the low point I think for me was right before I got fired. It was that talk on December __ when I had been killing myself for the kids. And these kids were, I mean, they’d been naughty. Like some of them had been arrested for acts done at school. And, you know, he sat down with me. He’s, like, we know you're working hard, Jane. But effort does not equal results. And when you look this stressed, not showering, and he made it, the way that he looked at me, I felt like he was commenting about my weight and my clothes, like, my appearance. He’s, like, you know, and what does it look like to the kids when you're their leader? And I think that was the low point because I really had given the kids every single thing that I could think of. I brought every trick with me. And I gave them every minute. And, you know, I felt betrayed by this principal that, you know, he sat with me and he cared about me, I thought, and valued me. And I felt like a complete failure. So that was the low.

INTERVIEWER: Well, let me ask you this first. If you could change anything about KIPP, what would you change?

JANE: If I could change anything about KIPP, I would change the, there’s a couple of things I would change. But if I’m going to pick one, I would say that it’s the [OVERLAPPING VOICES].

INTERVIEWER: Doesn’t have to be one. It could be as many as you like.

JANE: OK. First off, I think that it’s unfair to have such high expectations, or not that the expectations were unfair. I think that they are fantastic. Everyone should have high expectations. But I don't think that it’s fair to have the school staffed by inexperienced teachers. Because I feel that I came in. I had had some level of success. I know that I’m a little bit unconventional. But I’ve had 100% pass rate. My kids are learning. And what I’m doing is good work. And when I got to KIPP, it was, like, this isn’t the way we do it. We do it like this. And I just feel like if they had more experienced teachers, they could find confidence in teachers that would have a lasting career there that would be helpful for kids for a long haul. I feel like that was hard on me because there were all these young kids right out of college or the Peace Corps. They had, like, these activist mentalities. And all they were doing was perpetuating this school that was not good for teachers and not sustainable for the long haul. I also did not like that the departments couldn’t really plan together.

For instance, I think it’s really effective for _______ and _______ teachers to work together to have, because, you know, they can do critical thinking and look at news articles in history class, and then focus . . .on how to read literature and how to perfect things. I think that that would be a good team. But at KIPP, the teachers don’t last very long. And you can’t build those curriculums together. There’s just not time in the day unless you know each other and you work together for a long time. I also don’t think that because the kids can answer questions on a multiple choice test that it means that they are prepared for college. So I feel like it was really deceptive when I really wanted kids to read better and write better. But perhaps they were getting tripped up on multiple choice questions, that I look like a failure when my kids were not failing. They did know. And I had the evidence and the documentation to prove that they were writing better and that they were reading better. But they missed a couple of questions here or there on the standardized, you know, IA test. And I was on the chopping block. Most teachers are on the chopping block at KIPP if they don’t have good numbers on the IAs. And I don't think that’s fair.

So those are the three things, so much pressure on the numbers, the IAs and the multiple choice, also inexperienced teachers. I wanted to have a more cohesive team, work with other teachers, stuff like that. And that work day just did not allow for that.

INTERVIEWER: You mentioned that you felt like having these inexperienced teachers was perpetuating a system that wasn’t good for teachers. How was it for students?

JANE: That is an excellent question. And in fact, I had a kid, like, my students come from very little stability. I don't think that many of them had fathers that they ever knew. Many of them would move very often. So they had no stability in their life. And the fact that every year they would have new teachers, like, they didn’t have a teacher to look forward to. That’s what would happen at the other schools I was at. They would, maybe their freshman teacher wasn’t very good. But by the time that they were seniors, they knew that they were going to have Mr. Kiefer, or whatever. And these kids never got that. So every year, they looked at these teachers like fresh meat. I had told you before, the year before I got there, nine teachers left at the semester. There were only 20 teachers in the whole school. So these kids had, in . . . [the previous year] had four different ________ teachers. So by the time they had me, they didn’t feel like, like I really felt like they thought that I was temporary, or that they could have some control over it. They’ve been at KIPP longer than I have. That’s what a kid told me.

And also, I had this one kid. He was, I really liked him. He was really smart. And I really thought he’s awesome. But somewhere during the first semester, he started becoming really naughty, like talking back, saying horrible things, stealing things from my desk, stuff like that. And I asked him, you know, what’s going on here? And he’s, like, you know what Ms. _______, you know how when you started this school and you were so sweet and nice, you were so nice, and look at you now. You yell and you're mad and stressed out. And he’s, like, think about what it’s like for us having been here for three years.

And that’s hard on them. You know, I didn’t answer it like that, but, you know, for all these years, they’re getting brand-new teachers who, you know, are stressed out and pushed to the limit. And, you know, I do yoga?. I’m a very relaxed person. And I’m kind. But you get in that situation where, like, the principal is coming in and he wants to make sure, for example, that _______[a student] is sitting in her chair, and, they call it slanting, this position that the kids have to sit in while they’re in there. And if they come in your classroom and kids aren’t in that position, then as a teacher, I’m in trouble. So, you know, I know that I became much more irritated. And I can only imagine having only first year teachers or second year teachers who are stretched really thin, who have no experience, that this is hard on kids because they, I don't know how they can love school when their teachers are snappy and stressed. And not all of them are. I mean, I don't know. I don't know. And I saw a lot of it that the teachers were resentful of each other.

So on my team, I had a great team. We didn’t experience that. But I knew this girl on the ________ grade team and she was really mad because everybody said at the beginning of the year, the kids will not talk in line. They will be silent when they go from class to class. But the science teacher didn’t really like doing that. He didn’t like lining the kids up ten minutes early. So he would let them talk and be noisy from one class to the next. And so then the kids, but he’s inexperienced. He didn’t know. So then the kids started to be resentful of the other teachers and push back, like, you're so mean and all of that. And it’s hard. Did I answer your question? I feel like I kind of veered away.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, you certainly did. When you're in the grocery store or you're at the car wash or whatever, and unexpectedly KIPP comes to your mind, is there an image that stands out for you?

JANE: I panic. It happens a lot to me. It’s not necessarily an image. Like I don't have a flashback of, like, someone pointing a finger at me. Like, I’ll just have this wash of anxiety or, I’m still, like, it’s complete panic, Jim. When I think of KIPP, I think of waiting for the students to arrive and knowing that for the next, you know, 15 hours, I am going to be under the gun. Just, like, I remember that I would stand in front of my classroom and try to take these deep breaths that my therapist, my yoga teacher, would tell me to do. I remember standing there. I remember the feeling of panic. And that’s what I feel like when I’m at the car wash or the grocery store when I think about KIPP, this overwhelming sense of anxiety and panic.

INTERVIEWER: How have your experiences at KIPP affected you professionally and personally?

JANE: Well professionally I was fired in the middle of the school year. And there were really only, there were no other opportunities for me for the rest of the year. I also worry that for the rest of my, like now that I’m applying and I came back home to _________, I kind of feel like, you know, they’re going to find out that I was fired. A lot of applications ask you, you know, have you ever been fired. I don't want them to know, but I worry they’re going to find out. I wonder if it’s going to stop me from getting another job. I also think I’ve lost my confidence. And so I wonder if I’m going to interview as well as I used to because I’m afraid. Personally, this has destroyed me. I think all that time with no sleep and without eating and without, you know, getting my needs met, I had a nervous breakdown. I feel like I should share with you because I think that people, when they look at your research, this has cost me relationships in my personal life. I didn’t want to go to birthday parties. Like my roommate would invite me to a birthday party and I didn’t want to go because it would mean that I would stay up later grading. And she would say things like, let me get this straight, you don’t want to go and spend time with people who care about you because you want to be on time for people who treat you like shit? And I’m sorry for my language.

Now I have a nice boyfriend. I have this nice boyfriend who loves me and he wants me to come home to ________ and start this life. I just feel like KIPP has left this doubt that no matter what I do, I’m just not good enough. And that’s affecting my relationship with him. It’s affecting every part of my life. I feel like, I used to cry on the way to KIPP, like the 20 minutes that it would take me to get there, the half hour to get there. I would cry the whole way. And I still cry every day. I haven’t worked there since December __ and I still cry every day. I hope I get another job. I’m highly qualified. You know? The world needs good teachers who love kids and who are dedicated to making sure that they’re successful. And I still am qualified. I just don’t feel confident.

INTERVIEWER: Well, understandable. And you're not the only one, Jane. It’s a common experience from the people that I’ve talked to. But the people that I’ve talked to who have been away from KIPP the longest are the ones who have recovered the most. So the old saying about time healing all wounds, I think there’s something in that particularly for this kind of experience and when you're doing the kind of proactive things that you're doing in terms of seeing your therapist and doing yoga and those good things.

JANE: I think you're right.

INTERVIEWER: Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you wanted to talk about in terms of KIPP?

JANE: I was thinking about that. And I just, I think that, I still feel really respectful of the people who are at KIPP. But I feel like what I just wanted to say, at least once, was that I know that KIPP gets a lot of attention. I was recruited because I wanted to be like this activist. And I wanted to help the kids that needed me. I just feel like everyone has been a little bit misled about, yet KIPP gets good numbers. But it’s been at tremendous cost to the students and to the teacher. And I don't think that this is a model that would work as a whole. And it scares me, because, you know, KIPP nearly destroyed me. It was not a good fit for a lot of those kids. And they would rebel, you know, turn to drugs. Some of my kids got arrested for drugs and they were young. I just feel really, like I didn’t know. Nobody told me. I just didn’t think that KIPP is a sustainable model for any teacher or –

INTERVIEWER: What is it that scares you about this model?

JANE: What scared me is that there are a lot of good teachers all over. I’ve known them in _________ and, you know, I’ve met some living in _______ since I’ve been fired. But I know good teachers. And they have fun in their classrooms. And they laugh. But I also know that they may not have every student meeting every standard that they had hoped by, you know, a date on the calendar. And I think that if they compare themselves to KIPP that, you know, they may feel inadequate or that they’re not being successful or that a principal may look at a KIPP model and say, oh, well, that’s working. That’s progress. What KIPP’s doing is important. And we need to do that, too. And I just think, like, it will destroy. I’m really afraid that it will destroy kids’ love of learning. I think KIPP will destroy really good teachers, [who] have a passion for teaching. And that really worries me, because I think having high expectations for kids is great. But the KIPP model, it’s not right. It’s not perfect. And I worry that other schoolroom teachers are going to look at see that that’s what they want for their kids without knowing what it really costs. Does that make sense, Jim?

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, it certainly does make sense. Well, Jane, I really want to thank you for your honesty and courage and expressiveness. You've been very eloquent.

JANE: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. I know you've been traveling and you do this on your own time. I didn’t have anybody to talk to and I’m so glad that you were willing to listen. So thank you very much.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, so I’m going to turn the recorder off, and then I want to say something to you.


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