I would bring my husband, his co-workers, and some members of my family to my classroom. I would sit them in the back (preferably behind a one way mirror) and tell them to watch. I'd give them cookies and coffee or soda if they prefer; and I'd let them have chairs. The comfortable kind, not the straight back conference kind. This group of people seem to not understand what it takes to be a great teacher. Sure, you can go in right before the kids and you can follow them out the door. You can write simple lesson plans and never make a visual aid or review game and still be considered a teacher....maybe even a good teacher. That isn't enough for me. I don't want to be "a teacher" or "a good teacher". I want to be "a great teacher". A teacher like "Freedom Writers" who meets her students where their at and forces them to reach their potential. I usually don't feel like I'm "a great teacher", but I want to continue to strive towards that. The problem I'm finding is the group of people closest to me seem to not understand this difference. Teaching is teaching to them. I shouldn't be exhausted after a week. I shouldn't be grumpy or crying because work should stay at work; not come home through the front door with me.
I'm here to say they are terribly wrong. Work should not stay at work. I should be exhausted every day and every week. I should feel like crying, when things go really well and when they fail miserably. Daresay I should be praying for my group of students every day and I should be kneeling before the throne of grace asking for strength and love to give to them each day. This is my passion, it's what I was created to do. I know deep down these students were given to me, even for a short time, for a reason. There is something God wants me to show them. I stopped focusing on that about 3 weeks back. I feel as though all I do is fail. I guess it could be a "lack of experience" or "first year teacher syndrome". Maybe it's more because I stopped asking for grace and strength to honor Him in my classroom and with my students. I am overwhelmed, I feel inexperienced, I do not have much confidence in my ability right now. I plan and plan and plan; I try to create the most useful and memorable visuals to help my students grow...most days they leave, I come back to my room and I stare at the walls wondering if I taught them anything.
So anyways, I want this group to come and watch. Watch the lack of coffee I drink (only right away, once we get going, the cup sits in the back), the amount of energy I expel (in keeping their attention, in presenting a lesson, in showing them I care about them), the amount of interruptions I try to deal with quickly (the young girl who is crying, the two boys who constantly bicker), and the amount of time it takes to prepare even a twenty minute review lesson. I want them to watch...and see...and know that it's not as easy as walking in at 8am and leaving at 3pm. I want them to see how these students look at me when they are sad, confused, overwhelmed, feeling neglected, or lonely. I want them to see how I need to be just as excited as the student who did something well and just as somber as the lonely body starring back at me is.
I think I'm starting to forget why I chose education. Seeing as no one reads my blog (at least not yet...) I think this is going to be my "reminder" post. This is written for me...
You mustn't forget why you chose to be a teacher. Remember in first grade....looking to Mrs. Hagerty? She started your little dream; be like her. Remember in fifth grade....looking at Mr. Wilson for his "moment of silence" with his head bowed every day; be like him. Remember your first grade field experience....how excited you were to finally be in a classroom; don't lose that excitement. Remember your third grade and seventh grade experience co-ops; don't become them! Remember the day you walked into the high school emotional support class and you met the group of young men you were going to get to work; don't EVER give up on ANY student....Patrick, DJ, Zack, Kay....they worked, and they worked for YOU, because you CARED....and you showed them you cared; don't stop caring Meg. Then there was sixth grade...the group of street wise kids, the burned-out teachers, the lounge filled with "I'm glad I'm not trying to find a job..." conversations; don't listen to them....don't dwell on that. God is bigger than any economic issue; He'll give you the classroom when He is ready to have you there. Then the subbing began!! Five weeks with 5th & 6th graders....wasn't it blissful? It was an experience that taught you how to start the school year; save that binder! Day to day went okay; good with bad, but lots of new ideas...you wrote them down :) Finally, January rolled around and you were handed a key; that unlocked room three zero. Room three zero was filled with eighteen 5th graders. They are yours for the rest of the year. Meghan Elizabeth LOVE them! Teach them, care for them, but carry their burdens and excitements. It was worked well every time before. They need you to be passionate. They need you to be thankful for the time you've been given; not moping because next year is unknown. God could have placed you anywhere, or nowhere at all. Instead, He put you here...in room three zero to grow in your teaching abilities and to care for His eighteen children. It never was about the money, it still isn't, and don't you ever let it be. It always was, always is, and always will be about the kiddos :) It doesn't matter what people walking past may think of your crazy song and dance. The children coming into the room are your top priority. Nothing else matters more. Trust Him to provide the strength, grace, and love for each day. Give them your best and never less than your all. When the day is through, tears may fall...and thank God for them; for it shows the passion you have and the attachment you have made. He gave you a heart to overflow for these children. He created you to teach.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”” Joshua 1:9 NIV
Now I shall end. We start our last five day week before state tests tomorrow :)