Why I stay…
I had an “a-ha” moment this week that I just had to share. As I was preparing for an interview as a finalist for my county’s Outstanding Teacher Award, I did a lot of reflection and reading. Teachers may be leaving the profession in record numbers and with valid reasons. However, I believe it is our responsibility as educators to help each other realize why we should stay. I won’t lie, there have been a few times when I too was ready to pack up and call it a day… but I haven’t because “it” matters. Here are just a few reasons why I stay:
It matters to kids.
Kids need adults who are passionate, caring, and love teaching, learning, and leading. Kids need teachers who nurture their natural curiosity and challenge them constantly to be the best version of themselves. Children need acceptance from adults who believe in them no matter where they are from or what color their skin might be. Children need teachers who understand that everyday, we influence the future and we may be the only one in a child’s life that makes them feel valued. I am that compassionate, energetic teacher that children look forward to seeing every week because I set the bar high, accept them as they are, and believe they all can achieve.
It matters to families.
It truly takes a village to shape and nurture the future. Parents more than ever need partners in helping their children not just be productive global leaders of tomorrow but conscious global citizens today! So many parents are struggling to make ends meet and provide for their children that survival is a priority over homework and school activities. Teachers understand that parents entrust us with the best part of them. We may disagree with a parent on what a child might need to succeed, but it is our commonalities that bridge the gap. Parents and teachers alike want strong, healthy, and happy children! I am a partner in shaping the future with the parents who teach me about their children.
It matters to my colleagues.
We are a community of learners who are also family. We lift each other up when teaching gets messy and challenge one another to hone our skills and take risks to be the best teachers we can be. We may disagree on how to best support a child, deliver instruction, and assess learning, but we collaborate, listen, and problem solve together. Yet, contrary to popular belief, we are hardworking, dedicated teachers. We need each other to ask tough questions and speak up on issues that matter to kids. I am part of something bigger than myself.
It matters to me.
Growing up in poverty and in an abusive home, school was my escape. Caring, loving role models nurtured my love of learning and my creativity. The adults at school believed in me and challenged me constantly. My teachers raised the bar so I could have the opportunity to become something amazing and know that I mattered in this world. At times I didn’t know if I could accomplish what they were asking, but when I did, I was proud and believed in myself. We would celebrate and then they would push me even harder.
I am passionate about education for many reasons. However, I am a testament of the power of education. I had many cards stacked against me, but it was education that set me free and helped me break the cycle of poverty. It was my teachers and other adults in my education career that taught me to persevere and believe in myself even though I believed I didn’t matter. Being the adult who makes a difference in a child’s life- whose reflection may remind me of a younger version of me- is why I stay.
If we continue to leave our profession, who will our children look up to, learn from, and aspire to be? If we turn away because of all the things wrong in education, who is going to set them right again and ensure our children have great public schools?