Fighting Inertia

Oh hey there, dear reader. Good to see 'ya.

My last post was in February of 2016, which by my mathematical calculations is about a lot of months ago. The wife and I have added our second beautiful daughter and have moved to a newer,
larger house (I HAVE A GARAGE!!!) since that last post. So now I'm a teacher and a dad of two daughters under two, which was a really good idea when it comes to keeping up with writing a weekly blog.

I've thought about writing here many times. I'd love to give you some poetic reason about, philosophically speaking, why I've stayed away from publicly writing for 22 months. But the truth is, when my kids are both asleep and I'm caught up on grading and planning and there isn't a soccer game on, I sleep like a slumbering bear.

Except tonight. I'm wide awake. My youngest is starting to only wake up once throughout the night, which is really awesome. You parents out there may have shed a happy tear for me. Thanks for that. So tonight, while my daughters and wife sleep, I've read 30 pages of a good book, I've planned out the first three weeks of my government class, I've deleted A LOT of emails and I'm all caught up on rumor season with soccer around the globe.

I'm still wide awake.
So if I'm going to be awake, and you're going to read this, let's have a talk about inertia. It's a cruel way to be unhappy. I think I am starting to realize that more than staff meetings, more than monotonous grading, more than frustrating students and frustrated peers, more than budget cuts and every single article written about public education in the state of Kansas, it is inertia that is the single biggest cause of educators becoming jaded. It is the slow but steady realization that I complain way more today than I did five years ago. And without some extreme and focused effort, I will complain way more in five years than I do today. So on and so forth until I'm a crabby 53 year old teacher counting the days to retirement, bemoaning the rotten, hopeless generation I'm tasked with teaching.
Meme courtesy of Pintrest
I don't want that future. I think if you're taking the time to read this, you probably don't either, whether you are a teacher or something, anything else. Without fighting the urge to be complacent in one's job and get bitter about the fact that one's job is still the same frustrating job, we are liable to let years pass without ever shaking things up dramatically. No announcement about some big career shift is coming in the next paragraph, but I've started thinking more sincerely about what kind of educator I want to be in 5 years...10 my retirement dinner. This year is my seventh year teaching, four as a history and government teacher preceded by three as a physical science teacher.

I see teachers around the internet who have lost their spark either because it burned out, or because they got so lost in the day-to-day struggle of public education that they forgot that fires need fuel to continue to burn, and fuel doesn't get added without some personal attention. If nothing else, writing these words tonight is me publicly crying out that I will more intentionally kindle my own flame. I will more courageously try to kindle the flame of my friends at Center and friends I have around the world.


Who the hell knows. It's 2:27 AM and the white noise machine in the room next door is screwing up my thoughts right now. Or it's when this is being written. Whatever...

My wife has commented before that she often would use the blog as a gauge for how stressed I was with life, how in control things were. If I was posting every Wednesday, she figured, then surely all of the other things in life were in a pretty good place. As is often the case, she is right.

Looking at the last 22 months, I don't love the teacher that I currently am. I don't hate it either, but something is missing. The inertia of the public education system has pushed me to a more cynical, pessimistic place. I am realizing that if I don't start fighting that inertia, I will end up like so many others before me, beaten by the system, frustrated and ready to quit, be it in 5 years or 25.

I don't want that. I'm going to push back against the inertia. I'm going to be more optimistic and hopeful, if for no other reason then godammit, Carrie Fisher fought against her personal demons so I can fight against my professional ones. I hope to finish my career and life with the same confidence and gusto that she seemed to have at the end of her life.

Someone on the interwebs pointed out that Fisher's last line in a Star Wars movie (not counting CGI recreations of her) was the simple word, hope.

So holding aside the fact that personally, 2016 was pretty awesome, from a societal standpoint, screw off 2016!

2017 may not end up much better, but if we don't all have hope that it will be, then we'll never muster the strength to fight the fights that will make it a better year.

Fight the inertia. Fight with hope. I've heard in a galaxy far, far away that hope is what revolutions are built on.


Thanks for reading this blog! I hope you'll consider taking a moment to comment below and turn this into a conversation. Whether you are an educator or not, we have all had common experiences with education both good and bad. I want to hear what you think! 

About Me:

My name is Alec Chambers. I am a high school history and government teacher at a small, urban public school in Kansas City called Center High School. We regularly kick tail. Among many awards, we were named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2014. I don't just teach at Center- I also graduated from Center in 2006 after attending Center Schools K-12. I have a degree in Political Science, a second degree in International Relations, a third degree in Education and a Master's of Arts in Teaching. I have an unofficial degree is soccer. All of those degrees have led me to the high-paying teaching profession! I have two beautiful daughters, Katena and Emily and am married to the most awesome woman on the planet and fellow educator, Angela. All struggles aside, my life is flippin' awesome.  

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