Well, the time has come for me to emerge from my Hobbit hole and embrace a new adventure come this fall, so I have begun the arduous process of writing resumes, and answering job applications as I move back into the classroom. One such question presented a “what if” scenario that has had me thinking ever since. The potential scenario involved an irate parent not pleased with their child’s recent grades in my class and the dad in this scene barks “What makes you qualified to teach my child?” I have actually been asked that same question by parents at Meet and Greet back to school events numerous times. I get it. You want someone who knows their content. Well back to the original scenario – why am I qualified to teach middle school English?
While there is a certificate from the State of Texas indicating I passed the required tests. Yet, this only proves I can pass a certification test. I have my college degree in English and Journalism, but again, this shows I am skilled at literary analysis and writing. Neither of these documents truly proves that I can teach. Oh wait – there are the years of Teacher Evaluations where I scored well. Or did I know exactly what my evaluator wanted? While all of those are important, none are really the “most important thing.”
If you really want to know what “qualifies” me for this job, step into my classroom or Google Meet (as we’re in the middle of a pandemic) on any given day and witness me in action first hand. Observe what happens when a student asks a question “I don’t get it Miss.” and listen in on either the reteaching or explaining the concept differently and hear “Ooooooh! I get it!” That’s one piece of evidence. When students can articulate their thoughts in writing in a clear and concise manner after weeks of working with me in writing conferences whereas before their writing rambled all over the place – this is evidence. Read the end of the year essays and stories where students admit they hated reading and/or writing but because of being with me that year, grew a new love of both. I love that! It’s as if I magically tricked them into learning.
Love – this is the key to it all. I could have multiple degrees and certifications displayed behind my desk informing the world of my “qualifications”, but they do not matter. You can have all of that and not be able to teach your way out of a paper bag. There are many in our profession unfortunately who only entered it for the “summers off” thinking this career would be a piece of cake. No, there are times this career drives us to eat an entire cake. Especially this year when everything possible raises those questions of “are you qualified?” I hazard to guess many of us have felt unqualified this past year due to pandemic teaching.
Those of us sticking with it and putting up with the pile of abuse hurled upon us from those who feel justified in the hurling do so because we still have love. It may not be a love for whatever situation we find ourselves in, or a love for the demands others thrust upon us, but the love we have for our students. Teacher burnout has exponentially escalated this year alone according to various articles I read almost on a daily basis. Our nerves are frazzled and we are beyond the end of the school year tired.
That question is a valid one “what makes you qualified to teach my child?” What will be your answer? If I speak in the tongues  of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1. In other words – I sincerely doubt any of my students will remember my amazing grammar lessons, but they will all hopefully remember that they were loved.