I felt the need to write this after seeing many posts on Tiktok, Instagram, and Facebook talking about the challenges of teaching. While social media can be a great place to connect with other educators and gain inspiration for your classroom, it can also be a place that teachers share their challenges and real life experiences with the hopes of finding others who can relate (sometimes leading others to believe that teaching is solely a grim place).
I often see comments or receive DM's from future teachers talking about how discouraged they are going into education after seeing so many teachers leave the profession, and so I thought it was important to address this topic.
I'll do my best summing up my thoughts on my experiences teaching; and I hope if nothing else, it will give you a glimpse into the real life of teaching & maybe some peace of mind.
So here goes nothing...
Dear sweet, soon-to-be teacher friend,
I need you to know that teaching is SO much more than teaching. It’s comforting kids when they are struggling, it’s talking them through things that frustrate them, it’s helping them get through the scrape they got on their knee in gym class, it’s teaching students right from wrong, it’s being their cheerleader on the days they don’t think they can do hard things, and it’s being their safe space when they don’t have one of those outside of school.
Along with all of those things, teaching is also helping them learn new academic content, meet grade level standards, do well on the state test, and so much more.
I won't sugar coat things for you. On any given day I feel like a mother, nurse, teacher, friend, therapist, cheerleader, and more. You may think “wow, that’s got to be exhausting.” And you’re right. It can be! You learn to love your students like they’re your own and then you do what you can to help them be successful. Sometimes you’ll feel like you succeed and sometimes you’ll feel like you fail. You’ll have paperwork that never seems to end, angry parents, and a to-do list that’s never finished.
And, guess what, with this being public education & there being limited funding - that’s just the nature of this job. Unfortunately. (A different topic for a different day).
Here’s the thing…. along with all the challenging parts of teaching, you’ll also have some amazing things happen. You’ll have a bunch of sweet kiddos who think the world of you, a full heart from knowing the impact you’re making day in and day out, endless smiles from the goofy things that kids say, inspiration from students who won’t give up...no matter their circumstance, and a constant reminder that kids are our future and that deep down kids are SO kind.
You’ll gain patience and understanding for why kids (and adults) do the things they do, and it will allow you more empathy in your own life. You’ll learn to not sweat the small things and that your mindset & attitude both in and out of work will ultimately determine how your life ends up. You’ll grow as a teacher and an individual and you’ll feel blessed to learn the many lessons you do FROM STUDENTS (And, yes! Kids will teach you things!). You’ll leave work every day with a full heart & endless memories. And at the end of the day, you’ll know that because of your students - you are indeed a better person!
So, while I agree with many of the posts that pop up on social media claiming that teaching is hard and sharing the challenges that come along with it. I also know that teaching has many amazing things that make this job worth having. Let's face it...Teaching is not for the faint of heart. Teaching is hard. But, in my opinion, it is without a doubt worth it.
Kids are worth it!
If you are embarking on the education journey…I’m rooting for you! You've got this!!!
I was recently talking with a colleague about student behaviors and documentation; and I had the opportunity to reflect upon the conversations we have (and maybe don’t have frequently enough) in our school. We had an amazing conversation about our own personal journeys and we discussed how we are constantly trying to learn in grow in all that we do (mindset & language being a big part of that).
I’ve always been passionate about seeing the best in our students and realizing that student behaviors are merely a form of communication and not a sign of disrespect or being “naughty.” There’s nothing worse than watching the facial expressions of colleagues while a student is emotionally escalated and acting out in a way that so many people refer to as “unacceptable.” It’s not disheartening because people are frustrated with the child and how they are acting. It’s frustrating because most often, people tend to see that student as their one negative, “naughty” behavior, rather than the kid they truly are and all that they will become.
Moral of the story: the way we see our students drastically impacts how our students see themselves, how our colleagues see our students, and ultimately, how our students will learn, grow, and behave within our school.
If you're a teacher, you know that February to March is hands down one of the most challenging stretches of the school year. Kids are rambunctious as they wait for Spring and Summer to arrive, educational material becomes more complex (which means, more frustrating and challenging for students to learn), and state testing commences. If your lucky, you'll get a spring break some time during those two months that will give you enough of a breather to continue the rest of the year with a positive and motivated mindset.
Undeniably so, I was at that point. I was completely, without a doubt, 100% ready for Spring break. This year, our spring break was 3 days instead of 2, so let me tell you, I was chalking that up for a win. As spring break commenced, kids excitedly went home for their break, teachers left their laptops and materials at school in an attempt to leave work at work, and everyone went about their way excited to have time for themselves!
Then COVID-19 made its presence in the United States and nearly every school district in the nation began closing schools - it's history in the making, folks! I LOVE my job; but, I want to be transparent: the thought of having a few additional days home due to the virus and the protection everyone's well-being didn't sound like the worst thing in the world.
That is...until they cancelled school indefinitely!