I am nearing the end of my fourth year teaching and I am feeling so darn reflective. It is partially because it is that time of year and partially because I am always darn reflective. But I have these lessons that are new, some different ones and some repeats.
But I am always grateful for the moments I reflect because it reminds me why I chose to do this. Over my break my room got moved around and today I was forced to relocate some of my possessions and as I ran across each piece I found myself sentimental. Renewed in passion for this career path.
They aren't my students to fix. They aren't my students to spill my knowledge all over. They aren't my students to judge. Sometimes it becomes so easy to lose sight of that in the daily hum drum of teaching. The more removed I become, the less value I feel I have as a teacher.
I am not saying removed in age or years spent teaching. I mean removed as in not seeing the forest through the trees. Not seeing the bigger picture. Yea there are standardized tests, college courses and curriculum to be developed and professional development to be had. But what happens when that is all gone? I am just a teacher standing in front of a classroom. There are two ways to make what happens next happen.
That is to see them for who they are, who they will become and what they see for themselves or not see them at all. I chose the first one.
Reflection two days before my first day as a 9-12 teacher:
So I sought out some peace and quiet and found it among all places my classroom. Not long I am quite sure. Yesterday, the day before I am feeling quite removed because I am scared. There I said it. The students and teaching I love. But thanks to just the way I grew up when I reach achievements they often feel fraudulent. I know logically I am not fraud, but emotionally I am still that girl running classes in her drive way hoping beyond hope that someone will take me serious.
I am driving thinking of all these things this morning. I am in a bad, bad neighborhood. Like the kind of neighborhood that is on the news daily for murders. There doing a running jog on the corner is a previous student. He clearly has ran quite far. We did the smile and wave as I accelerated passed. I begin smiling as I looked around and all I saw was despair and urban life trying to dictate outcomes. He was a bright spot in all of that.
Two semesters ago he was in my room wanting, no dreaming, to be something bigger and better than this neighborhood. When he started I was doubtful, but by the time the semester was over I never had a doubt. He was a total and utter contradiction to the rule. The rules that society place on our backs and tell us who to be and what we are capable of.
So why do I have such faith in him when my story is not all the different. Maybe my neighborhood was but our survival modes and instincts are not all that different. Take your life and make it better. That is all my parents wanted for me. Don’t let your environment and society tell you who you are. And no matter how hard it tries, you have to want and be something different.
I could tell by his smile he heard me and felt me push him hard and he made it work. He was proud. I was proud. He continued running on with a wave and I continued driving on with a renewed sense of purpose. All this change, all the new faces, spaces, places cannot change who I am inside.
I am still that survivor, that girl in the drive way, that teacher who changed a few lives and maybe that teacher who didn’t. But what I do matters, no matter the time, place or person. I am not a fraud. I am a teacher.
I teach because it is my calling. I teaching writing because it is my passion and when the two collide watch out.