Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Teaching, It's Not For You

I loved this post by Sam Adam Smith: Marriage Isn't For You. On a walk some nights ago with Josh, I was fuming about a student who is capable of great change, but who made a bad decision. After talking about it for a while, I realized that I was making this about me. I wanted to be the one to help him, the one he would look back to in twenty years and say, "That Mrs. Cornwell, she really made a difference." But as I was talking in circles I realized, that not only is marriage not for you, teaching isn't either.

If you go into teaching thinking about what you can get out of it, you are bound to be disappointed. Sometimes kids won't like your class. You will put in long hours, and no one will give you a high five as you're walking out the door. You will look at your paycheck and think you should get more. You will find gum under your tables. Sometimes your kids won't tighten the glue and it will dry out. Your Dead Poet's Society dreams will seem so far away.

Teaching, it's not for you. I needed to change my view. Kids won't like my class every day, but everyday I need to give a 110% to each and every kid. Even that kid that grinds my gears. I need to take a second and listen to a story about their pet guinea pig, even when I want to move on to what we are supposed to be learning about. I need to forgive quickly. Kids are kids. They are going to make mistakes, and it might warrant discipline. But that being said, I need to also move on and not hold their mistakes over their heads. My job is to teach these kids, but my job is also to love them. I need to not dwell on the big changes I'm trying to make, but focus on the small victories, like students coming in on time to class, or earning an A on a project, or staying awake, or bringing a pencil to class.

If I remember this job isn't about me, my ego is pushed aside. I don't need to care what other teachers think, or what the administration thinks, or what type of accolades I am receiving for my hard work. I need to care about making these children's lives better. I need to focus on creating an environment where every child can flourish. The brainy kid, the outsider, the shy kid, the homeless kid, the popular kid. I need to focus on them, and stop focusing on myself. Because it's not about me, or you, it is about the students we serve. Teaching, it's not for you. It's for them.

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