I’ll never forget in Dr.B’s class when he asked me in college education 101 in front of everyone…”how are you going to stay a positive teacher in a public school setting?” I thought to myself….for one I will be getting a steady paycheck with a steady schedule which is more than I am getting at Food Lion. But I answered out loud “I plan to stay positive through my student’s learning experiences and I plan to keep a journal of reflection that will help me power through my problems” (all that was missing from that speech was a cheerleading skirt, a high kick, and a ‘GOOOOO Teachers!). Dr. B’s response right away was to laugh hysterically at me and I felt so embarrassed. I should have guessed there was something they were not telling me then. How the heck was I suppose to answer that question? I was 21, I had no children, husband, mortgage, or teaching job….I only thought I knew about challenges.
So here I am going into my tenth year teaching. My challenges are reaching a variety of abilities, with or without the support of parents, coworkers who may or may not be supportive, and a society that doesn’t really care about it either way. I keep getting this crazy message: ‘teaching is a thankless job’…wow I’m really deep now. But seriously, I had visions of all of my students so involved in their excellent learning experiences that I wouldn’t need books or materials or a behavior plan, visions of the world thanking me for my excellent work, visions of greedy learners all begging for more as I orchestrate a totally awesome school day, and visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.
I’ve learned those visions are a touch unrealistic, and with the legislation voting on the biggest educational cut in history my rose colored glasses are really off. I am starting my year with the following supplies paid for by the state: 3 ink cartridges (and that’s if someone doesn’t catch the 2.00 I went over). Teaching is exactly like parenting….there is no thank you in parenting, but you just know you have to find the energy, resources, and Faith to do the best you can. There is no immediate payoff, but there is a huge investment, and that investment is the life of a child. I just hang on to the things that are awesome in my room that no one can really understand….
-the child who struggles and fights for every word that looks like Latin, but who grew five levels in reading anyway
-the nonverbal students that communicate with a movement, look, feel for the first time
- the desperate and appreciative parents who sincerely thank you for giving some hope for believing in growth
-the shy student that stands up to make a speech about how much they love school
-the little dancer that leads us all into the perfect Tooty Ta
- the celebration of each milestone with cheers and laughter
-the student graduations into more challenging classrooms with better dreams and a new mentality
My game plan: give all things to God and know that it will continue to work. I’ve always heard ‘those who can’t teach’…my new slogan is ‘Those who are Brave teach, and those who don’t care get out of my way'.