Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Hardest Job I Couldn't Do

When I look back at my most favorite teachers- I can specifically remember their names- Mr. Heggen, Mrs. Mattox, Mrs. Claypool, Mr. Spears, Mrs. Chandler... and what made them my favorite. It wasn't how well they taught algebra or literature elements like plot, climax and setting. It was how they made me feel and most likely, my other classmates- like we belonged to their class and they truly enjoyed having each one of us in it. It was how they didn't take themselves too seriously but had fun and we knew they truly loved what they did.

When I work with several early childhood teachers- I see teachers who truly love what they do and how they are in it for the kids. I can walk into any room and can tell almost instantly which teacher is there for a paycheck and who is there because they truly want to be. And the kids can tell too. As did I, when I had a teacher who was not happy teaching anymore. I'm sure we've all had experiences with those kinds of teachers. When I think about a teacher's job- whether they're working with 3 and 4 year old children or high school kids, I KNOW what a stressful job they have. How tired, exhausted, and utterly frustrating it can get. I can see the weary eyes and the weary voices as they tell Joey to sit criss cross applesauce for the 20th time. I can see the weary eyes and weary voices as they try to get 20, 16 year olds focused on learning Shakespeare when half of the class didn't get any sleep the night before, or didn't get breakfast. The amount of "stuff" that is put in a teacher's way when one of their main goals is just to simply teach is astronomical. The politics of education and pressures of what kids need to learn before going into Kindergarten or score high on a standard test are what teachers face every day.

When you look at your average classroom, it can be estimated that one third of students in the classroom will have four or more adverse childhood experiences or ACES. When you think about how that impacts the children in those classrooms- you can imagine the tough job teachers have ahead of them. We expect the classroom to be a place of learning and an environment that supports encouragement, growth and stimulation. But how can a teacher possibly teach a child whose mind is constantly on alert- waiting for something bad to happen because they've been wired to be on the watch out? What about the kid whose family is homeless? Or the kid whose parent was just incarcerated the night before, right before him? The hardships that face our kids today are REAL and they are HAPPENING. And they are sitting right in those desk chairs in YOUR classroom.

Teachers have quite possibly one of the toughest jobs ever, but also one of the most important. So since this week is Teacher Appreciation Week, I encourage you to let a special teacher you know how much you appreciate their hard work. And to all you amazing teachers out there- please keep trucking along. I know it gets hard. I know it gets exhausting. I know it would be easy to give up. I know there are a lot of odds stacked against you. I know how you feel when you've been kicked at, spit on and yelled at. But please, keep trying. The kids that push you away the hardest are the ones that need you the most. You're doing a job that I'm sure most American's couldn't do, me being one of them. So today and everyday, know how appreciated you are. And to all the selfless, wonderful teachers out there-thank you for all you do!


Sophia's gifts to her teacher this year. Idea from U Create