The Worst Part of Teaching

February 1, 2014

For the past five years I've had the same issue poke its ugly head out time and time again.

It's never been what I expected, or was even partially prepared for in this career either. I expected bad behavior, crazy parents complaining about every little thing I did. I didn't expect every principal to like me, or even think I was doing my job half way well.

The biggest issue I've encountered is knowing what goes on and not being able to fix it.

I'm a fixer.

I want nothing more than for my students to have the life I had growing up. Heck my husband didn't even have my life and it makes me feel guilty.

That isn't possible though. So year after year I face the same things, children who should be treated better. Forget Reading and English, that isn't exactly important if you aren't sleeping in a bed, have a house full of roaches, and can only be promised meals during school hours.

The very first year I taught was a wake up call, I literally wanted to foster/adopt half of my class. These kids faced things that they just shouldn't. I'm still convinced that one child in particular has the potential to do amazing things with his life, if only he had a loving home.

At 23, I wasn't at a place to give a home to every kid I passed.

This wasn't a "baby fever" type of wanting to take kids in either, I'm not that type. It was an intense desire to correct a wrong. To prove to a child that life could be better. I could cook for you, love you, make sure you had a bed, and then one day send you off to college. I wanted that child to have the same chances at life that I had.

Another lost her grandmother the same day I lost mine. We bonded over the grief, but her grief was met with foster care. Where mine was really only met with someone I couldn't call anymore.

Over the years I've seen families suffer in ways that made me ask God why he would allow it.

A few years ago one child lost her father, this was one of the few times I had a student with an intact loving Christian family. I constantly asked God why he would let that happen, any other students could have stood to lose a father... this one had one of the few good ones around.

Sitting in my seat at the funeral that day though I learned something from her mother, watching how she behaved and how her child handled grief the coming months made me pray and beg God that if I were ever in her shoes I would react how she did.

Every single year I have a good mini-van full of children that I'd like to bring to my house and kidnap from what that deal with every day.

This is exactly why when I come home emotionally exhausted Jeremy always reminds me that this is my mission field. I can't rescue them, all I can do is be there.

I'm tough, I don't deny that. I'm also not a hugger, I think most kids have gotten that from me. However, as long as my kids know that if they ever need me they can talk to me and I'll be there, that is what matters. They know that when I get all mushy and hug them it's for a reason, I don't just hug every Tom, Dick, and Sally.

For the few months I have them out of the year they are my children, whether I get to clothe or feed them. I admit I get more emotionally involved than I should, I let them get to me some days because I expect more from them.

Heck I would adopt them if they ever needed it. I would do it if they didn't "need" it either.

On a day to day basis I try not to think about these things. I wouldn't be able to teach them if I did. In my classroom I go in with that attitude that I don't care how other people treat you or talk to you, this is how we treat people and talk to them here. I want my room to be a safe place where you can expect the same things day in and day out.

But I'm tough, I don't pretend I'm not. I probably expect a lot, maybe more than I should. I just want them to try their hardest in life and treat people the way they want to be treated.

At the end of the day I have to remind myself to be an example, to show the side of me that's a real person, to have a sense of humor with the kids, and to most of all drill it into their heads that I'm only on their case because I want the best for them.

I'd like to run into these kids year from now and find out what good they did in their lives.

I don't want to seem them make the same mistakes their parents did. I want them to give their kids better lives than they've had. I want them to overcome the hardships they face and be a better person for it on the other side.

I know this post has made mental circles, but that's my head these days.

It just breaks my heart to see kids suffer like they do.

A big part of me would like to teach somewhere easier just for my mental sake, but I don't think that is where God wants me. The thought of leaving kids like this and taking the easy road is just unsettling.

So for now, I think I'll just keep doing what I've always done... place expectations on kids that they think are ridiculous and then do happy dances with them in class when they achieve our little goals.