Sunday, February 16, 2020

Why I #LoveTeaching

“I love teaching because…”

That has started many a fall PD session, conference breakout, or reflection challenge.  This week #LoveTeachingWeek drew me to their webpage and asked that question. So, I contemplated the prompt once again.

I have answered this prompt many times, and I try to be sincere each time.  So often, I feel I am being cliché when I try to end the sentence with one clear and inspiring clause. Teaching is not something one can encapsulate in a tiny package and wrap in a platitude. It is more complex than that.  It is not a cliché.

I spent a little more time thinking. “I love teaching because…” Of the kids, of course. Those that come back and say they learned from you or grew from your shared experiences. The ones that keep you young, or give you gray hair. The ones who show up early in your room every morning, and the ones who struggle to show up at all. The ones who finally decide to let you in and share a sliver of themselves with you and the ones who don’t stop sharing from the minute they walk in your door.

I started thinking about those kids, so many of whom are no longer kids. The Nathans and Kyles, the Shannons and Brennas. The Brits, Daniels, Michelles, Katrinas, and Sydneys, The Brendans, Michaelas, Marys, Austins, Annis and Averys. And on and on. So many names, faces, minds, and hearts. Each one an individual, each with personal histories and unique hopes for the future. Each one bringing their own different shade of color and light into my world.
That is when it struck me.

I love teaching because teaching is never done. Every day, we grow, hopefully with our kids, and the next day, we get to grow some more. Just when you think you have it all figured out, you realize that the only thing you have figured out is that you have nothing figured out. That lesson that worked so perfectly last year? Pull from that, but understand that it may fall completely flat this year. Or the one that worked 2nd hour may hit a wall of dead eyes and silence 5th hour. Why? We work with kids. Humans. Individuals. Just when you believe you have mastered your subject area and are delivering knowledge like a sage, a student will force you to look at it from a fresh angle or you will slam full force into something completely unrelated to content and yet undeniably necessary to learning. And you have to navigate that because we teach kids, not content. When you think you have the experience to handle anything they can throw your way, one of them decides to skip something new at you, zinging it off the peaceful surface of your confidence, splashing you with bracingly cold water and sending ripples in every direction. That message over social media that won’t let you sleep. The shrug of apathy from that kid you never have had to worry about. A tear from someone who has it all together, but doesn’t. The spark of realization from the kid who has never seemed to care, but you cannot pinpoint what helped ignite the spark so you can do it again. The sparkle in the eye of the kid who suddenly has hope that appears during a week you thought you were failing everyone.

I love teaching because it is exhausting. It is never a job that lets you brush off your hands and say, “Whew, I’m done.” There is another human who will be walking through your door sometime in the future. It might be someone who sat in the back of your room three years ago and now needs help with that college essay or job application, it could be that grown up “kid” who will always be 17 in your head who reaches out on Twitter, or it may be someone new, someone you have not yet laid eyes on but who will need you, your best you, soon, and you have to be ready to greet them as they pass into your world.

There is no cliché or simple package to wrap up teaching into. And that is why I love teaching. 

No comments:

Post a Comment