When we were school age children, we would get so excited to see our teachers "outside of class" on the weekends or during the evenings. I guess we all figured they lived at school. It's so funny because times haven't changed. When I see my students out and about, they seemed shocked to see me outside of room 206.
This being a teacher gig is more than just teaching reading, math, and science. It is about teaching children. That's what I do. But why?
There are so many days I ask myself the same question. The days a nine year old cusses me or threatens me or another student. The days half the class makes an F on a test that I felt they were totally prepared for. The days that have heated discussions with parents because they think the school is picking on their children. The days when I'd rather be stranded on an island than sit through one more PLC, faculty meeting, or content planning. The days when teaching is out of the question, and it is just about surviving until 3 o'clock.
So, why? Why do I do what I do?
I think the last sentence of this note I got from a student says it.....
There are kids that don't get hugs. There are kids that have never been told "I love you." There are kids that come from nothing and more than likely are on a path to nothing. There are the kids whose parents are too busy with their own lives that they never ask for homework, check folders, or make an appearance at a conference. There are kids whose parents get them out of every ounce of trouble they find themselves in only to place the blame on an adult because their kids are just perfect.
Then there are the other kids. There are kids that their parents make sure homework is done. There are kids who take the assignment one step further because they just want to. There are kids that are encouraged and loved and kissed and told, "you're great" every single day.
Why do I do what I do? Because there are these kids, regardless of what color they are or what neighborhood they're from or who their parents are, or that have a disability or are gifted, these kids, they have potential. I want them to be the best they can be.
If a child's best is a C-, I'm going to push them to get that C-.
If a child never does their homework at home, I am going to give them time each day to get it done before class.
If a child has never been loved, I am going to love him.
If a child is more than just a kid in a wheelchair, I'm going to push him out of his comfort zone and the limitations others have put on him.
These kids are my kids for 9 months of the year. It is up to me to show them what they can do if only they try. It is up to me to love them, to hold them when they cry. It is up to me to high five them, laugh with them, and encourage them.
I am not their friend. I am their teacher.
It is up to me to show them what I see in them and open the door so they can pursue something more than their circumstance.
In my fourteen years of teaching elementary school, I have had approximately 1,000 students. That is 1,000 lives I've touched. I am about half way through my teaching career, so double that. I will have touched about 2,000 lives (if that isn't right, I am sorry. I am a language arts teacher, not a math teacher). That is the size of some small towns.
Imagine the potential in those numbers. Those kids can make difference in this world. I am a piece of that path. My hope is that something I say or do will create a spark in them to light the world afire with great things.
Teaching is like sowing the seeds of Christ. You may never see the harvest of the seeds you planted. There are kids that I see now as adults who are in the military, who are in college, who are becoming colleagues (wow that makes me feel old). I see that they are doing great things. But others, I may never know if anything I did made an impact. And if not me, maybe someone did, maybe someone saw their potential and helped open a door.
So, why do I do what I do? Because there are these kids, and they have potential.