Last weekend, I watched the most intense and longest baseball game of my life to cheer on the Washington Nationals! Many people went home or went to bed early in the game, not knowing the game would be about 6 1/2 hours long and go for eighteen innings. Yet, many of us, including me, stayed up very late that night, praying, cheering, and believing we would win.
In the end, my team lost 2-1 to the Giants. I was devastated yet, I looked forward to Monday’s game knowing we had another chance to stay alive and we did! Unfortunately we would fall once again to the Giants the following night and be eliminated from the playoffs. No matter what sport’s team you follow, I am sure you can relate to nail biting, edge of your seat kind of games or seasons with intense highs and lows. Teaching can be just as intense, exhilarating, and disappointing.
Every class that walks through my door brings hope and excitement. Hope that they will make real world connections, see themselves as valued citizens, and learn how to express themselves through a variety of activities both individually and in groups. There is nothing more exciting than trying a new lesson with the kids and seeing their eyes light up as they experience that learning is fun! When children are having fun, they are engaged, learning, and even teaching me new things.
While a strong lesson can take hours to create, it can take minutes for it to fall apart if a student or a class is having a bad day. Imagine a class of 27 of children with 27 different personalities and needs. Our children come from different backgrounds and some have a home life where there is no support or loving adult to help them flourish. Others have parents that are very protective, sometimes to a fault, but do whatever is necessary to help them succeed in school and in life. Some speak English, but others do not. Some children are even afraid to speak, so they sit silently absorbing what is being taught but you don’t know what they understand completely. Some children come to school with empty stomachs, their last meal being lunch the day before. Every child has a story but every one is special and important to the teachers and staff members at their school.
Just like a manager or a coach, I must remain calm, cool, and collected as a teacher. Everyone has off days, including our kids. Children can’t always control their emotions so it is up to the adults in their lives to model how to keep it together when chaos is pulling you in different directions. Educators, like coaches, must remain hopeful and believe in their team’s ability as a group and as individuals. No matter the behavior- a meltdown, acting out, or simply checking out- a good teacher never stops trying to reach his or her students in order to help them succeed.
Teaching is exhausting at times, but giving up is never an option. Educators are resilient, strong individuals who somehow find the strength to keep moving forward when the mountain of obstacles continues to become higher and rockier. Our fans (the community) are not always supportive, the owners (parents) don’t always believe in us or trust our professional decisions, and the players (children) are overworked (with tests) but just want to play. And so no matter the variables, I go back each day to do what I love and help the kids I love be the best that they can be- even if it means we need another day, another month, or another year to find that success.