Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Not a bad teacher.

I've been reading this blog lately called Single Dad Laughing ( I'm not sure why, as I am not a single dad, but I am usually laughing at his posts about his kid and his girlfriend, the Farmer's Daughter. Sometimes I connect his blogs about parenting to my life as a teacher, and none more so than his recent post "Crappy Dad." Insert the word teacher for dad, and you'll have my exact feelings about myself less than two weeks ago. I read this blog post that a reader left for him, and I similarly applied it to my own situation:

Being pink-slipped twice is hella on the ego. It's even worse, when you were doubting your abilities as a teacher before you were pink-slipped the second time, because the kids wear you down. Before you start harping that I'm in the wrong profession know this: I love kids. Kids are fickle though, and one day they love you and the next they hate you. That is definitely the case when you teach them. For any woman who wears her heart on her sleeve like I do, it can be a chore to maintain a professional demeanor without losing your mind when kids' moods change like that.  I may not have the most consistent classroom management, but I think there weren't very many students who would say I didn't care about teaching.

So here I am two years out of college, still looking for that school that will be my niche. I'm down and out after a few mediocre interviews, that probably combined took less time than it takes to watch a re-run of NCIS on DVR. I may have to move from the town where I feel like I've found my home away from home, and I'm coincidentally away from that home away from home, at home for two weeks. (I was in Knoxville and West Virginia visiting my parents, if that last sentence was hard to follow. Sorry.) I feel like I've failed my students, and I've failed my profession. You see, for so long I was under the illusion that the good teachers I had loved their job everyday, and I was also under the impression that if you were called to teach, you'd be a natural at it.  My teachers always seemed to have it together for the most part. So the fact that I was continuously losing my mind trying to do my job, made me feel like I was a bad teacher.

People who have never seen me teach anything before constantly say, "You are a great teacher. I can tell." I've heard that line a million times this summer, and usually my thoughts were along the line of, "How do you know? You have no idea how well I teach. You haven't seen my students' failing scores, or me lose my temper on a particularly rough day."  I've talked to plenty of fellow teachers who have rough days too, but somehow (Maybe it's because I'm young and still a little egocentric) I feel like they must handle it better than me.

Teaching is like any other calling. Just because you are called to be a teacher, does not mean you will automatically be a good teacher. Future teachers do not come out of the womb with an Educational Philosophy and a Classroom Management plan. They do not come out of the womb with the knowledge of the hundreds of thousands of children's lives they are about to enter. Nope, knowledge of those things only come with experience. God did not give me knowledge of everything to do with teaching to help me with my calling. What did He give me? Tenacity. Okay some would say that's just a good word for being stubborn, but trust me, if you're a teacher you need a good dose of stubborn most days. When I was teaching at my first school, my principal told me, "You have to keep showing up, even when you don't think you can."

So take heart anyone who doesn't enjoy their job every second of every day. That doesn't mean you need a career change. It doesn't mean you aren't good at your job. If you get laid off, you shouldn't take it personally. It is not the same as being fired. Not being the right fit for your school, does not mean you are not a good teacher in general. Some days, I feel like Mary Poppins. I get to stay in a school as long as they need me, and then I have to move on to the next set of children. I will be thankful the day I find the set of children I get to stay with for a long time, and that could be any day now.

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