This is a pretty exciting semester for me. I am finishing up my Masters degree and in December I will be walking across the stage with that degree in my hand. My mama will be there hopefully and I know my dad would be proud of me of he was here and I’ve got to say that I am pretty proud of myself. But once I am finished is when the real decision time comes. With a Master’s degree will have more choices and can even become a principal but that would mean leaving the classroom. Right now I can’t even imagine a life where I wasn’t in the classroom. I know it sounds weird to some but it is where I feel most at home when I’m not at home. Nothing makes me happier than standing in front of 30 high school kids waiting to see what s going to happen next. It is the one place I feel that I can really be myself. When I’m in the classroom I can be funny, serious, smart, kind, loving, strict and even angry and most of my kids understand. The classroom is my sanctuary. When I’m there with my kid and everything is running smoothly everything is right with the world and I love it. But the main reason I love being in the classroom is because when I look at those kids in front of me I see hope. People talk about how bad our kids are and how they worry about the next generation but they just don’t see what I can see. I can look back at the students that I have taught and see so many of them making a difference in the world. I think I am fortunate to live in a time where it is so easy to keep up and stay in contact with people so easily. I see wedding pictures, children, posts about their careers and each time I just think how proud I am to be a part of their story.
I am sure if the right job comes along I will take it but it’s not going to be easy. I was watching a documentary called the American Teacher the other day and they quoted some statistics that 46% of teachers leave teaching before their 5th year and that in the next 10 years over half of teachers in the work force today will be eligible for retirement. I felt like a special breed. Someone who can walk through the Blackboard Jungle and not just survive but thrive and go back for more. One of these inevitably I will walk out of the classroom one last time but it is not this day and until that day I am going to enjoy every second of it. So I want to dedicate this to all of my students but also to all of my fellow teachers that have persevered and love their job!
I’ve been on vacation so I haven’t posted anything in a while. Since I started this blog I’ve been thinking what I should write about and what do people want to hear. And then it occurred to me that I should follow my own advice. I try to tell my student’s to be themselves so that’s what I intend to do, just be myself. So my goal for this blog is to write an honest account of what I think and feel. And today what I feel like sharing is why I continue to be a teacher. I’m never going to get rich being a teacher and through the years the work of being a teacher has increased faster than the tangible, monetary rewards have. So why do I and so many of my colleagues continue to do what we do?
There is only one reason why I teach. It’s the students! I have been teaching in some capacity for 27 years. In that time I have had the privilege of having close to 4000 students in my classes but there are countless others that I count as my students that I never had in class. I love them all. I can honestly say that every one of them have had an impact on me in some way. Now I would be lying if I told you I remembered every one of them and it is becoming harder and harder to recall names but they have taught me tremendously over the years. They have taught me how to be a better teacher. They have taught me how to be a better person. More than anything else they have taught me that everyone is beautiful in their own way and that every person has something to contribute to society. They are honest most of the time and they help me see what should be our priorities as teachers and educators. Now as teachers we aren’t supposed to have favorites but being human we all do. We all have those kids that stand out and make you feel like you are the best teacher on the planet. But I can honestly say that I am glad for every student I have had. Sure some of them made my life hell on a daily basis drove me to the point of yelling and losing my temper but they all taught me something about teaching and about myself.
So this post is for all of my students. For those that I have never told, I love you all! Some of you worked hard, some of you never worked at all. Some of you made A’s and could have done better, some of you made C’s and did your very best. Some of you were never in my class but I love you like my own. There are those that I’ve lost touch with and some have become close friends and colleagues. Some were only here for a short while to teach me something and some of you came to change my whole life. Some of you hold me accountable and have actually become some of my best friends. But for all of you, please know that you have brought great joy to my life and if I’m sometimes a nuisance it’s only because other than my family, y’all are the best part of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
The past two days I have been in a training that is supposed to help us become a better school and be more efficient and effective at teaching school. Like most teachers that want to truly help kids, I love good training that can help me do my job better and this was a good one. One thing that the presenter kept saying was, “When did it become OK to cheat kids out of an education?” Now I have to admit that I am an idealist and an optimist. I always think that all of my students are going to succeed and learn. I maintain that this is true although not every student will learn at the same rate or in the same way. But it is up to us as teachers to find a way to help them find who they are and how they learn best. I think one of our most important jobs is to help students find out their gifts and what they are good at. But we cannot cheat them by giving less than our best. Now teachers are human and sometimes we have bad days just like everyone. On those days our best may not be much but we can still give our best no matter what that is. As professionals I believe it is our duty to do our best and do what is right because it is the right thing to do. I’m glad that I had this training here in the middle of June so that I can use the rest of my summer to do some planning so I can be y best when school starts back and I might be able to help another teacher along the way as well.