I am not an expert in everything. I am not sure how it works in most professions, but in teaching, many educators set out to change the world. Man. That’s a pretty hefty task. Without a doubt people enter into the field of education because of a genuine heart, an overabundance of patience, a knowledge base (of something) that is like no other, and a strong desire to affect change. Teachers look at how they can change the world, many times, without looking closely at how they can change themselves.
Can you deeply challenge someone, shape a mind, encourage divergent thinking when you…yourself are unwilling to change?
I am sure we have all fallen into a rut. Found a niche that offers comfort and security. It’s really easy to stay here in the comfort zone while juggling life, love, family, education, work, friends, and whatever else life has weighing heavily on your mind. It’s really easy.
When I look back at the last sixteen years, I see someone who has grown up in her profession. What started out as a great job with Summers off turned into so much more. I see someone who gave two years of her life to the inner city. Working with the most challenging students dealing with the most emotional circumstances. I see someone who fine tuned her skills and gained a tremendous amount of experience working with students facing learning challenges (and emotional challenges). I led students in community awareness, fund raising, and giving back. I organized committees and led multicultural awareness. I like to think I fostered a love of learning in many who otherwise never wanted to learn. I coached, mentored, disciplined, encouraged, listened, and loved like so many teachers do. Everyday. I see someone who furthered her education year after year so that she could reach more people. I see someone who left many days of work with a warm heart.
Then things started to change. Over the last three years I was working at in a job that was very comfortable. I was teaching the same lesson six times a day which made it very easy to come in and leave right on time. This worked as I had made friends, good friends that made this seem manageable. This worked as I had a baby and was giving more time to my family. This worked as I was ready for a break and needed to reattached to life in general. This worked as I received positive feedback. This worked as I came across a few students who really needed me. However, I wasn’t involved in anything extra (for the first time) and no one had any expectations of me (other than teaching my classes). I would see my former self in a few of the other teachers but never went out of my way to say “Hey, I’m like you!” Nope. I came in, did my job, and left. It was kind of nice at first. It was really easy. It wasn’t me.
When I realized I was in a rut, I decided it was time for a change. I know myself. I didn’t have the warm heart or the passion for instruction. I didn’t have the desire to stay late and join committees. I didn’t feel connected and I wasn’t doing anything about it. Professionally I wasn’t growing. I wasn’t changing.
So I made a change. When the school year rolls around I will return to teaching in a school where I don’t know a soul. I will again have my own classroom of fun little people who I can grow and shape in a diversity of subjects and experiences. I will be in a self-contained classroom which means I will keep the same group of students all day. I will teach them everything. I can connect to their families. I hope to build character in myself and in them. I am excited. I am nervous. I am second guessing myself continuously. This is the place where I know I am at my best. I remember a few years ago a principal told my class (at the beginning of the year) that they were lucky to have me as a teacher. I hope to hear this again and feel this again. I hope to make a change in their lives. And in mine.