Teaching is hard. Teaching is important. Teaching rarely gets the genuine appreciation and respect as a profession. Maybe that is why we are prone to buy into extremes. I saw a YouTube video today by a friend, Doug Timm. In this mix of spoken word poetry and education commentary, he hit a nerve. Doug talks about how kids, even in some of the worst situations, will pick family over their teacher. How, no matter how much we care and how much it may seem a family member might not, we are almost never the only ones.
It got me thinking, why do we accept the bumper sticker statements? I know most of them have some basis in truth. Most of them come from a place of wanting to help inspire and improve educators. But what happens when we really accept these statements at face value?
Teachers are super heroes. No, we are not. Buying into this myth diminishes the work we do every day. Being a teacher involves hard work, a passion for learning, caring for others, and so much more. None of the things teachers need to do to be successful are beyond any of us. Believing that teaching is some sort of superpower belittles the hard work we really do.
Teachers are the only people who care about kids. Well this is just a ridiculous statement. Lots of people care about kids. Health care professionals, child advocacy lawyers, and any number of others. More importantly, parents care about their kids. Yes, sometimes it can seem like they don’t. Sometimes it seems like parents are undermining their children’s ability to grow and learn. But that is the attitude we develop when we start buying into the fact that only we care. I am all for advocating that teachers care about kids. I don’t however, want teachers to presume anything about who does and doesn’t care for a child.
Teachers have the hardest job in the world. Not to take anything away from us. Our job is incredibly challenging, and at times it can be beyond difficult., but we aren’t the only people with difficult jobs. At the end of the day we get to spend our lives hanging out with a bunch of awesome kids. Yes they can be challenging, yes they can come to us with many problems to work through, but if you are going to talk about how much you care about kids, can’t we keep this in perspective?
The list goes on and on. I have myself at times been guilty of rehashing some of them. Going forward I am trying to focus solely on being my own hero and allowing everyone else to be their own hero as well. I am not here to save anyone, merely find any way I can to make their journey more successful. I firmly believe that in education when we are all successful we all benefit, so I ought to help others along their path. I don’t need to be their hero, certainly not their savior, just a character in their story with a part to play. For my part, I am choosing to try and be a light in the darkness, helping others to succeed. I won’t try to bring others down. I am simply challenging you to reframe your thinking in an effort to make a positive difference on the overall culture and potential for good in education.