I’ve always been an extremely tender-hearted person. I don’t say that to brag, and I really say it more as a fault than a strength.
I cry when I watch the news. Every time. I cried watching faceless and nameless people die in the latest Hunger Games film. I cry when I see an injustice or a need that is not fulfilled.
Basically, I can turn to emotional mush at the drop of a hat if violence or oppression is involved.
So you can bet that I’m defensive of my students.
In each one, I see strengths, weaknesses, but most of all I see possibilities.
In college, I was worried I wouldn’t have the strength to stand up to my students and put my foot down so that they’d learn self-discipline. Not in a cruel way, but lovingly correcting them so that they’d be successful.
I can do that now.
I have a relationship with the students I see every day, so when I talk to them they know I am genuine in my care for them. Students make me crazy, but they make me love teaching.
Parents. Adults. The “responsible ones”. These are the people make me want to leave education forever.
When you meet me for the first time by stopping me in the hall and proclaiming that I’ve done something wrong,
When you assume that I don’t care about your child,
When you tell me I’m not doing enough for your child,
When I’m making copies through my lunch,
When I’m grading papers until 9:30,
When I’m at school early and your student doesn’t show up for tutoring and I’m still “not doing enough”,
I want to quit.
When your child has a low grade and you blame me instead of asking me,
When you overlook that I’ve spent years studying,
Thousands upon thousands of dollars learning how to do my job,
Hours and hours in meetings and professional development EACH year,
Countless days planning for the year (including during the summer),
& every minute of my life from 7:40-5:00 working to ensure your student has the best learning experience possible while in my care,
You make me want to quit.
Quit on the child that you (and I–don’t forget) care so much about.
The opposite is also true.
When you don’t see the worth of your child you make me want to quit.
When you say “he’s just not very smart” you make me want to quit.
When you allow his aspirations to be “I don’t need this, I’m going to sell drugs just like my brother” you make me want to quit.
When they come to school hungry because food stamps ran out and you won’t get a job,
When you get drunk and high around your children,
When you leave your 12 year old to care for the 8 and 4 year old,
When your precious child comes to school with bruises and scrapes,
you make me want to quit. And sue you. And adopt your child.
You can never know how much I care for your child.
If you’re a loving parent, it’s not with the same love you have for them; I won’t pretend to claim access to that. But I do love your child.
I’ve prayed for them and their life since I was a little girl and knew I wanted to be a teacher.
I’ve watched all 132 of them them laugh, stumble, win, and struggle their way through teenage life.
I’ve learned their likes and dislikes, how to tell their handwriting apart from 25 other students’, how to know if they’re stressed, sad or angry, what makes them laugh, what kind of projects they love and which they hate, their strengths and weaknesses, and I’ve watched both areas grow.
So, when you say I don’t care about your child, am not doing my job, or am not doing enough it breaks my heart.
When you say your unique, amazing, precious soul of a child is not worth it, unable to learn, or a burden, my heart shatters.
I’ve heard time and time again “students are getting harder and harder to teach; the don’t have any respect and they’re just lazy; students weren’t like this back when…”
I can work on lack of respect.
I can work with intellectual issues and learning disabilities.
I can work on laziness.
I can’t work on adults who make assumptions, assign labels, and stereotype their own students, as well as the teachers working tirelessly for their students.