Education is the greatest civil rights issue of our time. It will take solutions around the HOW, not words around the WHAT.
I saw this great image today from www.workisnotajob.com. They put together some great stuff. Today’s image was just perfect for teaching… “Take Courage” against a chalkboard.
Why does teaching take so much courage?
I’ll share my thoughts and hope to hear yours.
1. Teaching takes courage because kids can break your heart. I cannot tell you how many times I cried over my kids. I cried when they cried because they were going through something tragic. I cried on my way home after I learned that they had made an insanely poor choice. I cried after expulsions in my classroom. And, each time, I had to pick myself up, move forward and refuse to give up. The connection between a teacher who truly cares, truly gives, and a student can be a bond that has lasting power. When the days come, and they will, that you are disappointed, hurt, upset and confused, those are the days you need courage to move on.
2. Teaching takes courage because you can be vulnerable to criticism and ridicule. You may read this and wonder what I mean. Well, I mean that kids can be cruel (without always knowing how words can impact). The worst part about it is that all former teachers were once former students that most likely said something mean about one of their teachers. I know I did. I’m not at all proud of it. I can still remember a day my first year teaching that I arrived at school looking less than my best self. I had been up until all hours of the night grading and prepping (most likely on the formatting or look of something). Walking into school, I can still hear C (names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent) say, “Wow, Ms. Garcia, BAAAAAAD hair day! And are you sick? You look sick. Why did you come if you were sick?” Jaw. Dropped. I can’t even remember how I responded. Or if I did. Note: this is the mildest of the stories I have. Everyday, you have to get up in front of a bunch of kids, no matter what age, and put yourself out there. Some people can say that they don’t care if a random tween says something rude or mean. Good for them; maybe they became immune after awhile.
3. Finally, teaching takes courage because it is hard work with a lot on the line. If you can’t take pressure, do not become a teacher. There is SO much pressure and to be able to handle it takes more courage than most professions. I’m not solely referring to achievement tests, while that is a huge component of accountability. I’m talking about a YEAR’S worth of learning that YOU are responsible for in a GROUP of CHILDREN. Those kids belong to someone. They are PEOPLE, with dreams and possibility. A teacher can either create possibility, or give their kids just another barrier to overcome. A reading teacher, for example, is responsible for growing kids as readers. How well a student reads can determine how well they do in other subjects that require, that’s right, READING. This may sound very simplistic, but I’ve been in this game for a decade now and the damage that one lost year of instruction in a core content area can have creates significant repercussions for kids. When you layer low income students who are already behind on top of that, the consequences are even more dire. With so much on the line, who better than the very courageous to accept the charge.
What takes courage in your work?
(Just getting out of bed is not an acceptable answer). :)