Friday, March 20, 2015

So Much Of What I Do

I don't write a lot of education posts, because this isn't an education blog. But today, I'd like to try something different.

Today I stumbled across this article entitled 6 Facts People Should Know About Teachers. It couldn't be more true. So much of what I do is for my students, or the students of our state that I have yet to encounter.
So Much Of What I Do

It hurts me to see my students neglected in the light of some of the national changes to education. It hurts when I see a student in tears over her low standardized test score, and no matter how much I console her, I know there is a much bigger problem at hand. It hurts when a parent can't see what I see in their child - a bright and inquisitive soul who merely needs some attention from someone who cares (something many of my students never receive at home). It hurts when I have to make the hard decision to remove a student from my classroom - because I know it isn't a long term solution. It hurts because I feel that I've failed him.

I love my students. I spend almost every day with them. If being at school at 7:30AM shows I care for a student who simply wants to talk about her weekend because no one else with listen, I'll do it. If a student needs to vent about his NCAA sports bracket, I'll listen. If a student needs to hang out after school to wait for their ride and wants to work on homework, I'll stay however late is needed. Never mind the endless papers to grade, the meetings to plan for, or the lessons to create. They need me, and I'll drop what I'm doing to make that happen. Because I became a teacher for my students and their education - even when it is hard.

Much of my own life revolves around my students. I take on new responsibilities because I want them to have the opportunities to shine, the opportunities I wish I had when I was their age. It's partly why I agreed to becoming a director this year, because I couldn't bear the thought that my students might not have the very best chance to discover their acting career or dreams. It's why I also coordinate one of the largest programs in the nation for my state. And in the end, their megawatt smiles at their success and the tears of joy on their cheeks make it all worth it to me. The endless hours, the early mornings, the grading that can only happen at 9:30PM at night, the sacrifices I must make in exchange.

So much of what I do is for them. I didn't enter this career for the money, or the recognition, or any form of glamor. It isn't easy. Not a day goes by when I think of something I could have or should have done differently (and that's not to say I'm not confident, but merely that every student requires a unique approach). But as I've written before, I love what I do. I can't envision doing anything else with my life. It isn't easy, and it can be frustrating at times, but I hope they know my heart is in the right place. The tough love is because I care.
Four years has taught me a lot about the education profession. It has taught me that not everything comes from a textbook (oh college, how delusional I was going into my first year). It has taught me that my students come first, before the curriculum, before the tests, before the lessons. Because if I can't reach them, so much of what I do doesn't have a lasting impact. And that is my goal as a teacher: to have a lasting impact. If they don't remember me, that's okay. But I do hope they'll remember learning in my classroom.
I am proud of them - remarkably so. And so much of what I do revolves around that. Their strengths may not lie in my class, or necessarily even in school. But remarking on what they do well seems to spark a change in those who need the seeds of encouragement. They are capable of so much more than they believe, and if I can be the one person to get them to reach for their dreams, my job has been done.
So those of you in the education field with me: hang in there. It isn't easy. It's a sleep-depriving, long-hours, little-recognition field. But it matters. It matters so much to those who are the most important: our students. If nothing else, do it for them. They need you more than they are willing to admit or more than you know.

And those of you who aren't teachers: don't be so quick to judge. It's not an 8:00-3:00 job with summers off. Remember that our youth are our future in this country. Let teachers do their jobs and mentor our youth. Perhaps there will be thanks someday.

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