First, let me start by saying I LOVE my profession. Teaching is more than a job to me, it is my passion. When I am in a state of 'flow' with my students, that is one of my happy places. I've often had students say that Spanish is their favorite, and that they enjoy it so much they barely know they are learning. When I am with my students I feel the same way (most of the time), we have so much fun that it doesn't feel like work. Teaching is a joy.
However, listening to politicians talk about the teaching profession, you would hardly know that so many good things happen in our classrooms. I am aware that most politicians have no idea what happens in schools. Unfortunately, as most parents are passionate about their children (as they should be), education is a powerful chip on the political playing field. When I first became a teacher, I remember being so PROUD to state my profession when asked what I did for a living. Over time, after getting enough negative reactions, and hearing my profession torn apart on TV my feelings began to change. I felt more defiant than proud when asked what I do for a living. Each time I told people I was a teacher, I felt the need to be prepared to battle preconceived perceptions about education. Now, when prospective teachers ask me about going into the field, I feel obligated to warn them about the need for a thick skin in this profession.
Teaching is a commitment of the heart, and there is always MORE that you could do for your students, and the race to meet the needs of all the little faces that walk through our doors can be exhausting. When you add to that the negativity from the outside, sometimes I get TIRED. Tired of hearing my profession torn apart, tired of defending it online and in-person, and tired of all the negativity in the world. Tired and worried about the world that I am sending all these precious hearts and minds into.
So what do we do? Where can teachers turn for the heart to continue? Because make no mistake, if you are a teacher the world needs you. This is a question I have pondered many times. Yesterday, listening to my daughter and her friend make a video for their 2nd grade teacher, as they raved about how she was their favorite teacher of all time, it hit me. We can turn to the reason we became teachers in the first place, to our students!
Every time I am at my most worn out, some interaction with a student lets me know it is all worth it. One of my favorite things to do, is to let students draw me pictures or write me notes after they finish a test (or even on the test if they are waiting for me to repeat a question). They always surprise me with amazing Spanish pictures and the sweetest notes. The pictures below are from this week (and a few older students have sent me after they've moved on from my building). Each one reinforces my belief that teachers are necessary, a force for good, and that I am in the right profession, every exhausting and inspiring second.
Yes, it is important to take care of our bodies and minds, but we must also take care of our hearts! I know it looks like a lot of love for me in the pictures below, but the secret is, your students all love you that much too. I even did similar activities when I taught 7th and 8th grade, and their notes were just as touching (if a little less enthusiastic).
The next time you need inspiration and a reason to keep going, look at those young minds walking through your door, take a minute to connect and let them write you a message or draw a picture to share their feelings with you; and know that you are needed and loved!
Entering my 13th year in the classroom; I am a TPRS/CI Elementary Spanish Teacher. Passionate about TPRS/CI, Brain based learning, and using technology to bring the world to our students, and our students to the world.