To my Fellow Educators,
I am coming off of a tough week at work. I am tired and struggling, as many of you are. As the end of our first quarter approaches, I am realizing that the second full year of teaching during a pandemic will be no easier on us as educators. Last year we were so glad to be back in person with our students that we happily pushed through a lot of hard things. But the hard things seem to keep piling up on us. I don’t care if you’re a homeroom teacher, a specialist like myself, a paraprofessional or a custodian, your job right now is tough — harder than in any “normal” teaching year. Covid protocol has changed many aspects of our jobs and has added additional challenges.
On top of the new challenges, Covid has alienated us as teachers and co-workers. We don’t see each other at lunch or after school, thus we don’t get to share our stories and struggles. Because we don’t communicate like in the past, we forget to empathize with one another. We forget that each role within a school may look a bit different, but each role has its unique benefits and challenges. I feel strongly that by working together and supporting each other, we can create a positive learning environment for ourselves and our students. You see, quite often we teachers learn as much as our students throughout the year.
While dealing with my own personal struggles, I’ve been thinking about the kind of teacher/person I want to be. I’m not perfect. For instance, just today I snapped at a class over something that wasn’t their fault, and I’ve been beating myself up about it all afternoon. Still, I want to be a teacher who goes to work with my head held high, a teacher who tries a little harder next time, a teacher who my students and co-workers respect because I try to maintain my authenticity and my integrity. I’ll tell you all the truth — teaching is not easy right now. And yet, teaching is literally all I’ve ever wanted to do. I knew back in 4th grade, sitting in Mrs. Cruit’s classroom, that I wanted to be a teacher. I am doing EXACTLY what I’d hoped to be doing when I was a kid. I don’t want to take this for granted.
So here’s my plan. Instead of sitting around and listing for you all of the hard things about my job and yours, I’m going to tell you my WHY — my beliefs about teaching. Then I’m going to print this out and post it in my office. I’m going to look at my list every day, and I’m going to bust my ass trying to be the kind of teacher that I hoped I could be. I’m going to take a piece of advice from my father: Fork the nonbelievers. (Note: Language slightly altered to be less offensive. I am a teacher, after all!) I think this is what my Dad means by this phrase. Don’t worry about other people — what they’re doing or what they think of you. Keep on doing your best and you’ll be all right. That is what I intend to do.
So here are my beliefs. I encourage you to sit down and write out yours as well. I think that in remembering why we became teachers in the first place, we can re-motivate and re-inspire ourselves.
What I Believe about Teaching
- I believe that my job as a teacher is important. What I do has the potential to positively impact lives both in the present and in the future.
- I believe in teamwork — teamwork in the classroom, within my building, and within my field. I want to be the kind of co-worker that people enjoy collaborating with because they know I will work for what’s best for our students and for our school. I believe in connecting with other teachers who do what I do to share ideas and garner encouragement.
- I believe that a strong public education system levels the playing field for all children. And it’s my job, in part, to help students see the importance of education now and in the future.
- I believe that I can be a bright light in a child’s educational experience. I strive to be a person who both shares the importance of lifelong learning and who connects deeply with her students.
- I believe in building relationships in my classroom. Students won’t care about learning from me until they understand that I care about their well-being. (Thank you Sharon B. for teaching me this!) I also believe in building positive relationships with my co-workers and families. Relationships are key in my profession.
- I believe that my content matters, but I also believe that my character matters. How I treat my students every day makes a difference. I want to be a kind, fair, fun and enthusiastic teacher. On days when I fail in this department, I want to pick myself up and try again.
- I believe that all kids have something in them to be valued. We all have had tough kids. But even the toughest kid has something that can be appreciated and fostered.
- I believe that when there’s a problem in the classroom, there is also a solution if you work hard to find it. I believe in talking to other teachers or my principal to find a remedy to a challenging situation. I don’t want to give up on a class or on a kid.
- I believe that I have the most interesting, creative, challenging, heart-breaking AND rewarding job. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do or be.
“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”