27 Feb An Olympic-Sized Dream
As a teacher, this is how I envision myself.
I’d like to think that, like an Olympic torch bearer, I am beckoning all hopefuls to follow the flame as I dutifully lead them to the place of dream-realization.
Unfortunately, this is a more realistic picture.
When I went into this profession, I honestly believed that I would be the teacher to make a difference. I would inspire adolescents to love learning, and they would look back on their education and hallowedly speak my name as The One who made all the difference.
Nobody told me that the reality would be slightly different, with me admonishing the same 14 year old three days in a row for failing to bring a pencil, or that I would slump in my chair at the final bell wondering just why I thought I was cut out for this. Nobody explained that the kid in all black would cry out for attention in ways I had never seen. Nobody said that my heart would break when my student’s mother died while he was in my class.
Teaching, in case you don’t know, is not always leading a charge with a flame. It is pulling your charges towards a pinprick of light. It is not always inspiring; it is often excruciating.
So often, when the classroom clears and all that’s left are long-forgotten, tooth-marked pencils, I feel defeated. More often than not, I leave the space where I thought I would make miracles and feel like I’ve just made a mess.
Today was one of those days. I know I explained the same concept 452 times in 452 ways, then had 452 questions from 452 students. It was (she says hyperbolically) exhausting. I looked back at the beautiful but now ragged lesson plan book, questioning where I made the mistake. Should there have been more differentiation? Would a group activity have been more effective? Surely there was a video that could have been a help.
The fault, I always assume, is my own.
This job gets hard when we forget that we’re dealing with people. People who have free will, varying interests, and unpredictable behavior. People who can’t always see that the now of a classroom affects the future of a life.