Confessions of a Teacher

#RealTalk Why We Haven’t Quit Teaching

The past few articles I’ve written have been controversial. 
The craziest response I’ve received has been “Wow! Can tell you are young and have a long way to go! In fact get out now! Your students and parents deserve it…”
When I first read this response, my “irritated, frustrated, and over it” reaction was “I’m already on the way out. Don’t worry.” 
But then when I read it again, I got offended. 
Why? Because I’m not going anywhere. No matter how hard this job gets, I cannot bring myself to just…leave. 
If you’re reading this article, you’ve been faced with the same crossroad, but you’ve always chosen the same path…to stay. 
In spite of the chaos, the behaviors, the administration, the district, you have decided to stay. 
You and I have stayed. We might’ve changed districts, grade levels, and moved to another country just to give it a try somewhere else. “It can’t be like this everywhere!” you’ve told yourself, and yet it is. But still, we stay. 
Aside from benefits and a decent (if you’re lucky) paycheck, here are the reasons why we haven’t quit teaching.
We hope that it will get better
There have been times when I came home in tears from my day at school. I’ve sat at my desk and sobbed. I’ve gone to co-workers and complained about all the changes that need to happen for the school to improve. 
There have been curriculums that made no sense and didn’t take into consideration the levels, learning strategies, or culture of my students, but I was expected to teach it to the best of my ability and ensure that students would meet mastery within a short period of time. 
I’ve worked late into many nights and gotten up early to finish. I’ve scarfed down my lunches and ran from hall to hall, rushing to make copies, get water, use the bathroom, and pick up my class in two minutes or less because my planning period was taken once again. 
But somewhere…DEEP DEEP DOWN inside of my teacher heart, I know that someday and in some way, it will get better. Click To Tweet
But somewhere…DEEP DEEP DOWN inside of my teacher heart, I know that someday and in some way, it will get better. 
I have no idea how or who is going to bring back the respect for educators in our lifetime, but I’m praying that at some point, it will return. 
In that same DEEP DEEP place, I’m hoping that I’m in a classroom somewhere to see it. 
So do you. It’s a large part of why we haven’t quit teaching.
Whether you’re in the classroom, an administrator, or on Capitol Hill, you want to be a part of that change in some way.
We still view teaching as the high-esteem position it’s always been
The kids can be disrespectful. The parents are sometimes unbearable. Window watchers swear they know what teachers need the most, and to many of them, they believe we’re fine with what we’ve got. 
The respect for the educator’s position has been diminished in so many ways over the last 20+ years. From The White House to the schoolhouse, teachers have gone from professionals, esteemed for their impact on every child, teen, adult, and senior citizen, to people who get summer vacation and shouldn’t complain about the “good deal” we have. 
Excuse me as I roll my eyes.
I’m reminded of a great quote posted by the copy machine in my building. 
“Engineers Make Buildings. Artists Make Paintings. Scientists Make Rockets. But Teachers Make Them All.”
A teacher touches the lives of youth in ways that many people can’t imagine and don’t have the heart to do. Every single president, ruler, dictator, Noble Peace Prize winner, New York Times Best Seller, magazine editor, and INCLUDING the Secretary of Education has come through a long line of teachers. Teachers who sat up day and night preparing lessons, gathering materials, checking papers, giving hugs, sending e-mails, and a million other tasks to ensure that each of the people in the positions listed above were well-prepared before being sent off into the world. 
Show me the most powerful man or woman in the world, and I’ll show you the long line of educators behind them who taught them how to get there. 
We refuse to let another child fall through the cracks
Not on my watch. 
It disturbs me for days when I see a video or article about another child taking their life. I think about all the life that the child had before them that they’ll never see. I think about the change they were meant to make in our world. Was it to cure cancer? Become the next president? 
When I receive new students each year, I’m passionate about not just teaching them, but encouraging them. I’m passionate about exposing them to new career paths and opportunities they’ve never heard of before coming into my room. My desire is to give them so much hope and wonder that when they leave my room at the end of the year, they realize that there is no glass ceiling and that possibilities are endless. 
Every student in our class has the ability to become the next president one day. There’s a chance that one of the students in our class can create a flying car, space stations for us to live on, or the next surgeon who performs a ground breaking surgery. But there’s also a chance they become a well-rounded human being who makes this world a better place by setting an example of being a model citizen, community advocate, or the house on the block that kids know they are safe.
As teachers, when we walk into our classrooms and turn on that light, we’re preparing to open up the door for new possibilities. Students may talk while we’re teaching, catch an attitude when we give out consequences or even storm out of our rooms without permission. But when we come back the next morning, and turn on that same light, we never stop opening that door to new possibilities.
Hearing those “Oh I get it!” exclaims and the “Thank you for being my teacher” moments, we all experience makes it all worth it. It’s why we haven’t quit teaching.
Understand this
To those outside the classroom looking in, this article isn’t for you to use against a teacher. It shouldn’t be used to take advantage of the pure heart teachers have. 
Every one of us still deserves conditions and a salary that helps us keep the lights on, our children fed, and our sanity intact. We go on strike, not because we don’t care about the education of our students, but because there’s no way we can pour out of an empty cup. It’s impossible for us to be teachers, counselors, mediators, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, tutors, and nurses when our basic needs aren’t met. 
But it’s with tears in our eyes, blisters on our hands, hoarse voices, paper cuts, bad backs, and unpaid bills…you better believe we’re still going to teach our hearts out. 

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