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When this pandemic hit, the closing of schools sent a ripple across America. Parents got a glimpse of what life might be like as a teacher. Amplify that feeling by a factor thirty to forty to equal teaching in a classroom, and they might begin to understand why it is so important to show teachers how important they are. Haters might be fickle, but reality is not.
Teacher friends, you are strong enough to take-on obstacles, roadblocks and naysayers. Demonstrate courage in the face of adversity we have learned to expect in this crazy world of education! We need to use the “hate” as fuel to further emphasize our worth. When you hear teachers are once again being blamed for the failures in education, ignore the rhetoric. Understand that we are only surrogate victims in the systemic failures education has had for decades. Teachers are truly the backbone of society. Embrace your worth!
If these past few years haven’t had us questioning our worth, I don’t know what will! As I type, I’m afraid to ask what is next. Transparently, this has been the first year I have actually thought about what life might be like outside of the classroom! It only took twenty years and a pandemic to push me to what I thought to be my breaking point. And yet, as Maya Angelou wrote, “Still I Rise!”
“Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth” - Unknown
These adversities have been overwhelming to say the least. But they have caused me to focus on what makes educators some of the strongest people in the most challenging profession! I admit, I had moments where I questioned my education, experience, and expertise. However with a bit of self-reflection, a spirit of thankfulness and tons of prayer, I pushed through that momentary doubt and begin to, once again, see my worth. I encourage all teachers to do the same.
It is not hubris to acknowledge one’s worth. As teachers, we often are expected to be humble, as humility seems to be part of the job description. When someone or something makes us begin to question our worth, we must remind ourselves where the world would be without teachers. The pandemic took us on such a ride from adoration and admiration, then swiftly from accusation to hateration (the act of hating for my etymological friends). So how do we continue to “rise” above any negativity when our worth is continually questioned?
“Because there's too many things for you to deal with/ Dying inside, but outside you're looking fearless.”
- Tupac Shakur
Teachers do what we always do: we press on! We push through all negativity, adversity, any and all obstacles placed in our path. We continue to put on a brave face for our students. And when it becomes too much, we take a step back, regroup, and persevere to teach another day! We prioritize our mental health by learning when to say “no, and not feel guilty about it”! We realize that there is only so much we can finish in one day. And when that day has ended, we focus on the fresh start of another day without any regrets about what we could have, should have, or didn’t accomplish. We recognize the humanity in us all, including ourselves! And above all, we should never doubt our worth!
"If you've got somebody's heart, baby, you got their ear."
- Tabitha Brown
Teachers have the ability to capture the hearts and minds of young people, in turn, helping students learn to see their own worth. Tapping into the potential of others, searching for, and pulling out all that is inside them and affirming identities is a skill not many have. A teacher’s worth cannot be measured by their abilities alone, but the lasting impact they have by changing the entire trajectory of a student’s life.
It is time for teachers to take this moment and advocate for changes we have been wanting to see for decades. It is time to demonstrate that we know our worth, and demand to be compensated for it. It is time for teachers to stop allowing others to question our worth and understand that an affirmation of our own worth is vital in our effort to influence, inspire and be integral figure in the future generations to come.
To all my teacher friends, ignore the haters, understand your impact, and embrace your worth!
“Teaching is the one profession that creates [educates and inspired] every other profession”