Teaching: Every Year Begins Anew


I am not entirely sure where some of this came from.  But I can tell you it was spurred by a song that brought me back to my time as a student sitting in my room on the floor in front of the stereo hoping and imagining...)

                What I think I find most intriguing about being a teacher is that we are always starting over.  I have had people tell me that I should find another job that would be more stable, probably pay better, and would allow me to not deal with everyone’s children.  I have also run into many people who marvel at the patience I must possess to work with children in the capacity that I do.  I don’t always feel like I am doing anything special.  In fact, most of the time I just feel like I am doing my job and trying to develop people who will impact the world in some way when they leave.

                I am not Superman and I really do not have an overabundance of patience, just a normal amount.  Over time I have learned how to hone my skills to be more effective and I finally feel like I might be reaching a point in my career that I know what I am talking about.  That is part of the reason I created my blog within the last year and started entering the conversations about the best methods to teach children.  But how I reached this point is rather interesting.  I have been constructed, destructed, and reconstructed so many times I have lost count.

                Every building that a teacher works in has intricacies that are unique.  I have worked in four since I started teaching fulltime in 2007.  The process was extremely hard.  Every time I made friends, I ended up moving on in pursuit of my ultimate goal:  To teach Social Studies fulltime in an environment that made me feel like I could grow.  On a personal level there are days I really miss some of the people I made friendships with, but can no longer see on a daily basis.

I traveled through so many locations it was crazy.  There was the charter school where I began and the crucible of the special education classroom where I discovered that I had a well of patience that I could tap into.  These environments taught me more about myself than any other experience in my life.  I think that while I was striving for my ultimate goal, focused and driven, I also lost parts of myself.  I became unhappy with some of the situations I was placed in.  Plus, when I finally reached my goal I was still profoundly unhappy.  What was I to do then?  Why wasn’t I happy?

For me I think teaching has been about the change and the journey.  I had thought that previously if I could only teach a different subject or teach in a different environment that I would be happy, but every time I moved into a new environment I was profoundly unhappy.  The relationships I forged throughout the time in my career were the thing that made the job worthwhile.  I have learned so much from so many different teachers it is unreal.  My time as a special educator showed me so many different pedagogical methods and teaching personalities.  In fact, the more I have worked the less I feel like I know.

In the teaching field today we live in interesting times.  There is all kinds of exciting new technology that can be utilized and bring learning into a new arena that was previously unattainable.  But at the same time we are all teaching in an environment that can be extremely hostile for a variety of reasons.  At this point, I don’t really care about the conversations that have been nothing but negative since I began working.  I only want children to see life as the journey it is and the linking of experiences that make up the story of us.

I think in the last ten to fifteen years we did well to bring about data into the classroom and the ideas of measurable goals.  But I think it is time for a change.  I think that teachers need to realize that we are dealing with people in our classrooms that have insecurities and needs that we all had at one time.  Sure maybe I didn’t have to worry about the food my family was going to eat every day for dinner, but thinking back there were things that I had in common with all of my students.  I spent time in my room wanting to be somewhere else for a variety of reasons.  I spent time alone listening to music marveling at the artists that made me feel in psychedelic colors.  I spent time trying to figure out what I wanted out of life.  I mourned friends I lost to suicide.  I felt pain and rejection.  Essentially, I lived a uniquely human existence.

In today’s world this is no different.  Students still need us to be there.  They still need us to listen to what they have to say and make them feel like they can keep striving for the life they want.  To guide them through the tough times.  I had teachers and coaches that reached out to me even when they didn’t realize it.  I can think of several teachers that influenced me in ways that made me keep going.  I think overall, developing children needs to be our top priority.  If we can teach kids how to have grit we can teach them how to continue to succeed even through the tough times.

This is why I teach.  I teach to develop the human mind and continue the striving to the next great adventure that might not even include me.  I really don’t teach for the money or for the validation of the test scores.  If I wanted validation or oodles of money I would go do something else.

I think of all the people I have met along the way on this journey and none of them have not worked hard.  We all have been fighting like scrappers in a system that has done nothing but tell us we are terrible or are wrong for about the last fifteen years.  I think that it is time we all realize we are all on this journey together.  No one is trying to hurt anyone.  We are just all doing the best we can with what we have. 

Perhaps this was not always the case, but it certainly is now.  I for one am proud to have been on this journey with lots of incredible people.  I also look forward to the changes that are obviously going to come.  I also look forward to reinventing myself.  For, it is the journey that has given me meaning, not the destination.      

      So as you start your new school year, try to think of how your journey has changed you and where you might like to go next.  I bet you will be surprised at how far you have come.  I know I certainly was… 

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