If you watch any media or listen to anything political you often hear about education, education funding, teacher’s unions and test scores. And oh my gosh am I bombarded it with it every single day in my daily life. I mean I am seriously embroiled daily in the battles of education. I have my very own ethical and professional philosophy of education and it definitely has changed and shifted as I became an educator and transformed the kind of teacher I was.
Last year was finally when I found my stride and don’t get me wrong I am still perfecting the art of teaching and figuring out who I am as a teacher, but last year was the first year I walked into the classroom day 1 and knew exactly who I wanted to be. I never wanted to be that teacher who doesn’t smile till Christmas. Tried it, it didn’t work. I didn’t want to be so mean and so strict that kids felt hindered and held back from learning out of fear. Can’t say I tried it, but I know it won’t work for me. I want two things out of my class and that is students to understand my respect and love for education which means I carrying the highest expectations of my students. And for them to attempt to rise to those expectations. Notice I said TRY. I am not expecting excellence, but I am demanding greatness. Greatness for me is showing up every single day and trying the best they can. I do the exact same.
But the biggest secret I have is I walk into that room and I own myself. My identity of who I am in the classroom is exactly who I am in real life. If I have a booger in my nose, I own it. If I mess up a lesson and a student challenges me I welcome it. If I feel horrible I tell them. If I have a stop a lesson and reteach, I do it. My classroom isn’t a train or factory producing brilliant college readers and writers that focuses solely on the testing that takes place.
And this is the being honest part….That stuff, the testing, the data, the school rankings none of that ever touches my students. Sure I sit down and have those conversations with all of them at one time or another. But it is never ever a measure of their worth to me and they know that. I make sure they know that. The politics outside of the classroom concerning my classroom never make it in.
Sure I get up in arms over the narrative constantly being spewed about teachers who get summers off and have tenure. I get seriously up in arms over the fact that with my Masters degree in another other field other than education would not only demand respect but would warrant much better pay.
But here is the thing….I didn’t get into education because I thought it would be lucrative and I would get clout for my hard work and education. I don’t even need that type of validation. I got into it because as a little girl I sat in the driveway and relished the workbooks my teachers sent home at the end of the school year for summer work. I did it for the little girl who played “class” in her driveway. I did it for the young lady who had a fourth grade teacher tell her that her grammar and syntax was so atrocious she definitely could not be an English teacher. I did it for the teenager who started college at 18 under the assumption that writing and teaching couldn’t ever work as a career and actually make decent money because she was told so so very many times. She signed up as a cytology biology major and failed her course work miserably. She even later at 25 let that doubt creep in and became a psychology major. Only to walk into an English classroom the following semester and felt like her heart exploded because she found her passion again.
The validation I get never has come from my paycheck. I know my own worth without dollar signs. For some that matters, but I am not and will never ever be one of those. The validation for me comes from their stories. My students stories who see a little bit of themselves in me. Some of my students are extremely lucky and have people in their lives whom tell them what they are worth and encourage them to find the things that make their heart explode. Others may not. I am speaking and listening to all of them.
So when I hear the state of education and where it is headed or not headed sure MommyRhetoric gets mad as a mother, voting citizen and a teacher. But as Mrs. E, I could give a hoot because none of it matters in my room. I am gonna do what I am gonna do which is what I am meant to do and what my passion is and exactly what I know how to do and that is teach.