What do you hope to achieve as a teacher?

Maybe you’re hoping for super test scores, or maybe you’re just living for the weekend at this point. Summer break could be foremost on your mind and you are wondering how you will survive the next 3 months.  A retirement countdown may be on your calendar.

You may also be worried about the student that is frequently absent or the one that wears the same clothing daily.  You may simply be wondering what you are going to fix for supper. But, have you ever stopped and really thought about what you want to achieve?

I had lofty goals when I started teaching. Each student would arrive bright and cheerful eager to learn. They would be well-fed, clean, and not have a worry in the world. They would go on to graduate with honors and achieve wonderful things for the world. I had lofty goals and, as one friend put it, rose colored glasses on.  I still remember the day they came off, or, as my friend put it, got smashed. 

My first year was spent wiping noses, coaxing abused children to participate, and carrying a terminally ill child to and from recess and specials on his ‘bad’ days.  I also spent a lot of time crying. Why did children have to suffer from abuse, alcoholic parents, and diseases? Why was the system so slow and so inefficient when it came to abuse?  Why did people, who didn’t really want children, have children? 

My main achievement that year, beside survival, was to love those kids. One of my college professors had stressed that we needed to love every child, especially those who seemed unlovable, "Love the ones that are dirty as well as you love the ones that are clean".  I learned that lesson -the hard way.  Not that loving others doesn’t come naturally to me, it does, I just didn’t realize how many children would be unloved and look to me to fill in the gaps.

For the last 22 years, I’ve loved children that are not mine, children that have yelled at me, children that have tried my patience, and children that beg for attention in every imaginable way.  There have also been the ones that I wish I could take home with me, the ones that I want to protect from a cold, cruel world. But all I have is a small window every week day, for 9 months a year.

It isn't always easy. It is stressful, demanding, and emotionally draining, but there are numerous rewards. The student that recognizes you 10 years later and hugs you, saying, "You were my favorite teacher"; or the one that admits they "didn't like you at first, but then I got to know you and understand that you were trying to help me" ; or the one that "adopts" you. 

So, what do I want to achieve as a teacher. Oh, you know, the usual… To be a lifelong learner and lead young minds into life long learning and to be everything to everyone all the time. And since that’s not going to happen, I’ll settle for being there and loving the lovable and unlovable every week day for 9 months a year.


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3 comments

  1. Thank you. You summed up many teacher's outlook very well. Some days are hard, but you keep on because you love the children.

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  2. Well said! I too had some lofty goals, and even now when I feel like I am making headway with a kid, I worry that once they leave me any progress they may have made will leave them. I guess all that we can do is hope for the best.
    Thanks for posting this.
    karen

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  3. Thank you both! The words were in my heart and, thankfully, God helped me put them on paper!

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