“This is the not the teacher I wanted to be.”
From time to time, I stand in front of my students, eyes filled with tears, while this thought repeats itself over and over again.
I’m not sure when I first realized it, but once I did, there was no going back.
I wake up every day, not being the teacher I wanted to be… and I know I’m not the only one.
Before The First Day of School
Before I became a teacher, I would see the viral videos of teachers dancing and singing with their students. I’d watch videos of teachers with their masterful lessons and creative ways of including the whole student to learn a certain topic or concept. I would get tears eyed, thinking of all the endless possibilities that I would have inside the classroom with my “kids”.
Now I get tears eyed thinking of the teacher I’ve become.
The Reality of What’s Before Me
It can be hard for teachers once they’ve created a certain persona inside of a classroom, where the students you saw in the videos are completely different than the ones in front of you. You go in the first day of school thinking that you and your students are going to get along just great and learn so much. But then you learn that half of them are two grade levels behind, your school is all about data and putting on a “show”, and the rest of your class could honestly care less.
To make matters worse, you open up the district’s curriculum and realize that it moves at the speed of light with no wiggle room and includes exams that you have to sit down and work out to understand.
So instead of investing time in creating lessons that involve your students using their entire body and mind, you’re killing forests in the copy room, having to differentiate the differentiation, and if we’re honest, teach to the test because the “data matters”.
So you end up like me, standing up in front of your students, seeing their hidden potential, but unable to find the time and space to give it the room it needs to grow and blossom.
The Leash or Be Compliant
There are pieces of us that want to say “Screw this district” and do what we know is best for our kids. But we know that when anyone walks into our room unannounced and sees us trying to do something they didn’t give us in a PD or as a district resource, we’re being called into meetings. We’re being put on Personal Improvement Plans. We’re being docked on our informal and formal observations. We get even more visits to our classroom.
We basically get put on a leash.
So instead of being put on the leash, we just comply. We make the copies and fly through the curriculum. We become angry and frustrated teachers who lash out because we’re not who they need us to be.
Guilt sets in. Anger sets in. Sadness sets in… and if we’re not careful, complacency sets in. Mediocrity sets in. A complete and total disconnect happens between us and our careers, or worse, us and our students.
But sometimes we get in it so deep. We drift so far from the ideal teacher we wanted to be, that we feel as if we can’t go back. Our fear is that if we tried, we wouldn’t be respected because of the damage we’ve already done to those around us and under our care.
But what if I told you that the same way you give students a chance to reset every day is the same change they’d give you? Would you try to swim back to shore with whatever strength you had left inside? If you knew that tomorrow held a complete restart, would you take it?
If you’re not the teacher you wanted to be, when will you make the necessary changes to your life to get back to being that teacher?
The best part of all of this? You’ve still got breath in your body. Your mind is still active.
There is still time to be that teacher you’ve desired to be.
The question is, Will you?
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