Sunday, August 14, 2016
It's Go Time, Teachers
It's that time again, teachers. The first days of school. Time to morph back into "Mr" and "Mrs," time to set the alarm to rise before the sun, and time to wear make-up and real shoes.
It's time to get back to packing lunches, time to retrain your bladder, and time to learn many, many new names.
It's time to be on your feet for 8 hours, time to ration your copies, and time to remember just who you are.
You're a teacher, doggone it, and it's go time. It's time to begin the making of magic that only teachers armed with glue guns and inspired by Pinterest can make.
It's time to prove to the Trump children of the world that our schools are not "department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers," because as anyone who walks into a school will see, the long hours and dollars spent and lessons planned are surely not just for the benefit of "the clerks." The technology training and curriculum adoption and blood-borne pathogen videos are not just for teacher entertainment.
For the first time in a long time, teachers, I will be watching from afar. I will not be setting up a classroom and welcoming students myself, and although I know it's the right choice, I also know I'm indescribably sad. I figured out why, too. It's because what you're about to do every single day is sacred.
Yes, it's hard. And it's draining and stressful and full of red tape and scrutinized. But what you do - what you GET to do - is sacred. You are given an opportunity that few other professions ever have. The opportunity to change - literally change - the world. And it starts sometimes with changing yourself and your perspective.
So here is what I want to say to you as someone who is watching from afar with a heart still incredibly near:
You've got this. The nerves and anxiety will tell you otherwise, but you can do exactly what needs to be done this year. More and more is being piled on you, and you will feel like buckling sometimes, but you can do this. You won't be perfect every day, and there will be some days you want to throw the alarm across the room and pull the covers back over your head. That's ok. You're human. But deep inside that teacher-heart is a reservoir for such days. Deep inside you is a lifetime's worth of preparation for a year such as this.
Each child in your room needs you. You might have tough 18 year olds who act like they need nothing, or you might have tender 3 year olds who need everything. Regardless, each child needs something, and I believe they are in your room because you can provide the something they need. Whether you actually do or not is up to you, but I'm begging you to look inside each child - look past the exterior - and really see him or her. See that child's heart and ask yourself what he needs. Remember that sometimes the ones who need you the most also try you the most. Think past the behavior to what its root might be. Investigate, explore, and ask. Sometimes we teachers forget that our students are intricately carved human beings with emotions and motivations as complicated as our own. Let this be the year you meet needs and not just standards.
We're cheering for you. I know sometimes it feels as if everyone is trashing public education and the teachers who provide it, but please don't allow the loudest naysayers to drown out the devoted supporters. We, the vast majority, are here cheering you on and are so grateful for what you do and the excellence with which you do it. We know it's exhausting (because we've had our children home all summer and struggle to keep them entertained for 30 minutes, much less multiple hours). We know you don't always have the resources you need or ideal conditions, and we know the successes you have are often in spite of your conditions, not because of them. We know that you are taking care of our babies when we're not, and we know that you are giving it your all. We know, at least most of us, and we thank you.
Teachers, good luck. Make the most of what you have and the best of what you face. Like with everything, there will be good and bad, ups and downs. There will be successes and failures, days you run in and days you run out. But no matter what, remember the simple truth that when go-time comes, you've got this.