- What a Teacher Wants: One Teacher’s View - March 25, 2018
- Artist is Not a Dirty Word - March 18, 2018
- The Death of Reflection in English/Language Arts Classrooms - March 9, 2018
- More Than A Teacher - March 4, 2018
- Real Teaching Resolutions - January 5, 2017
- 23 Times I have Questioned My Sanity While Teaching - September 7, 2016
- Part 3: Adventures in Real Word English/Language Arts – Let Them Be Great - August 23, 2016
- Part 2: Adventures in Real World English/Language Arts: Making Them Care - August 4, 2016
- New School Year Advice from a Ten Year Teacher - August 1, 2016
- Adventures in Real World English/Language Arts: The Planning Stages - July 18, 2016
A few weeks ago, I made a few observations about my life as a teacher. I am humbled so many people connected with it. I was in no way undermining what others do, nor was I complaining. I adore my job and I just wanted other people to see our world. It was just a few thoughts on what we go through as teachers. Here are a few more ways that teachers show how they truly are every day superheroes:
1. Multiple Roles. We switch from teacher to counselor to mother in a matter of moments. We are mentors and disciplinarians. We offer structure when sometimes none exists. I have had to comfort an entire class of students that lost a classmate. How do you explain death to third graders? How do you explain suicide to a group thirty students each with different beliefs without offending anyone? We’ve flat ironed hair and sewed on buttons. We’ve fussed about late work and created schedules. We’ve encouraged students to send off poetry and short stories, and cheered on the side lines at football games and volleyball games. We have to be instant forgivers. We have written up the student that called us a not nice word and the next day give them a clean slate. It is exhausting going from one role to another sometimes in a matter of moments, but if it is done right the kids know that no matter what role we are in, it is to help them.
2. Coworkers. We work with amazing people. People that are just like us. People that are in the same place, deal with the same kids and situations. Our coworkers go home with papers to grade and understand that Sunday night feeling more than anyone else, even your spouse. My coworkers make us laugh and comfort us when we cry. Pull aside students that we have problems with and we do likewise because we are all in this together. We are a family. We get each other, even if no other profession does.
3. Your own set of defenders. We have a set of kids that will defend us to the end. Now they will turn on you pretty quick if they are mad at you, but as one of my coworkers put our kids have the mind set we can mess with you, but no one else can. When the kids know you genuinely care about them, they will do anything for you. You can fake caring with adults, but with the kids they will see right through you. They know who is there for them and who is there because they have to be. And despite popular belief, the majority of us are here for them. We want a better world and a better society- why else would we stay? Someone has to speak up for them and they will for you. I heard in the hall, “Stop giving Ms. So and So. issues she will help you if you ask.” Or we get wonderful notes on boards or sticky notes on our desk that make our day and remind us to keep going. They keep us here. It is not the pay, tenure, or the state. It is those kids.
4. Personal appearance. Teaching is not a fashionable industry. We need comfortable shoes and sensible clothes, but nothing is worse than being judged by students. Spill coffee? It will land on that single white dot on your shirt and yes, they will call you out. Change your hair? Be prepared for a ten minute question and answer session on why you did it and expect opinions. I’ve stared at myself in the mirror asking the question, “Can I wear this shirt?” If I was working in an office, there would be no question with the kids no, I can’t. Put it back. You can always tell a first year teacher because she wears heels. By the second year, flats come out. Gain a little weight? Speculation begins- “Are you pregnant?” Forget lipstick? “Are you sick?” Kids have no filter. Causal Fridays? How about dressing up in full eighties garb for homecoming week, then get them to take you seriously as you teach Canterbury Tales.
5. Passion. How many people get to say they get to share what they love every day and get paid for it? I am surrounded by words, literature and poetry. Science teachers conduct experiments and watch students race mouse trap cars because of something they taught them. Art teachers show students how to look at something in a different way. History teaches them about different cultures and where we have been. We teach more than content. We teach kids how to live and function in our fast paced world. We teach because we believe in what we love and believe it has a place in the future.
At the end of the day, we love our kids and do try to save the world. Yes, it is idealistic, but I like living in an idealistic world. I want my kids to love what I love. I want them to tackle the worlds’ problems and make it a better place. They remind us we have to be more than normal. We have to be extraordinary.