Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Why I Became a Teacher

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.
Tragedy, no matter how disconnected you may really be, 
will do that to you...make you think.
I promise I'm not going to talk about what happened in Connecticut forever.

Eventually I'm sure I'll be able to stop
imagining what it felt like for those teachers and students.
Eventually I'll stop seeing the faces of my first graders
whenever I hear about it. 
Eventually I'll be able to see the good in society again
and convince myself that the good in our world does outweigh the bad.

Until then, I can't help but reflect on my own decision to become a teacher.
I hear those stories (although I try not to listen)
about teachers hiding their kids in closets,
putting themselves in harms' way to protect their students,
telling them that everything's going to be okay,
even though they know nothing is okay.

And I'm reminded of why I chose this profession. 
It's really quite simple,
although almost everything about my profession tends to make me forget.

I'm doing this for the kids.

I didn't become a teacher so my name could be at the top of the list
for highest test scores in the county.
I didn't become a teacher so all my kids could ace some standardized test
at the end of the year.
I didn't become a teacher to fill out countless stacks of paperwork
and to collect ridiculous amounts of data.

I teach for my kids.
My 23 first grade babies who I love as if they were my own.
I want, more than anything, for them to grow and learn and succeed.
I also want them to feel love and compassion.
I want them to know how proud I am of them - all the time.
I want them to know the difference between right and wrong.
I want them to learn how to be a good friend.
I want to be their support system, so they in turn can learn
how to be a support system for someone else.

Last year was a tough year for me. 
I've mentioned it briefly here on my blog
and not so briefly to those closest to me. 

I lost sight of why I was doing this.
After one year in the profession I had chosen for life
I was jaded and angry.
I was overwhelmed.
I felt overworked and underpaid.
I was envious of people that could leave their job at 5:00 
and be done for the day.
I was cynical.
I was discouraged and I felt like I was failing.
I forgot that I wasn't teaching for the "suits" up in their fancy offices.
I was teaching for my kids. 

They were MY kids and they alone were my first priority.

This week, as I'm able to do what so many other teachers in the country are not:
write letters to Santa, make reindeer food, celebrate with The Grinch,
I'm keeping my kids and the love I have for those kids 
at the front of it all.

All the other "you-know-what" (and if you're a teacher, you know what) 
that comes with being a teacher
is just not really all that important at the end of the day.
What's important is loving those babies.

If that's there, all the rest will come. 

Hugs (particularly to all you teachers),

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