Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Teacher's Perspective: When You Have Nothing Left To Give

With the homeschool post still lingering in my head over the last week, I started wondering what teaching is like for "real" teachers.  I struggle with insecurities with my own child and am luckily only accountable for her, but teachers have a different set of expectations and pressures on them.  They have to answer to parents- some rational, some not so rational- a principal, and a set of test scores.

So I reached out to my friend Laura, a middle school math teacher now living in the great state of Texas.  We met in Bible study where almost on a weekly basis I would hear this very tall and beautiful young lady voice her struggles and heart for the kids in her classroom.  She would ask for us to pray for her and her kids, and we would.  I saw her stress about whether or not she would face the same roadblocks in a new school year, whether or not she was prepared to face the politics of the system yet again.  I saw her heart break when she couldn't do more for bright kids struggling at home.  This chick loves her kids.

I asked her to write on anything about teaching.  Below are her thoughts.  Enjoy.

When You Have Nothing Left To Give

I still don't know how teachers do it. Writing detailed lesson plans at 3am, managing small groups without anyone making and throwing paper airplanes, dealing with girl drama, dealing with boy drama, keeping your advanced kids challenged, keeping your low kids from crying out of frustration, teaching good character and integrity, embracing the differences of every child while keeping your routines similar. 

It is hard. 

I don't listen to anyone that says different. There are always times that I very much question if I am indeed the best person for this job. I'm not a great teacher. I'm average at best. My student's test scores are below proficient. I have kids that walk out of my room. It takes me longer than 30 seconds to get students quiet. I am not always consistent, and if I'm honest, I don't see all my reading groups every day. I sometimes forget to probe for higher level thinking and I misspell words my students copy down. It can all be overwhelming. Most of the time it feels like I am failing my kids.

However, I keep coming back. Every day I wake up and come into my classroom convinced that the day is going to be different; that this would be the day my kids actually will learn something. I revise my lessons and prevent off task behavior. I continue to have high expectations of my students and it's only grace that keeps me coming back. I very much believe in my students and work hard for them.

 Their behavior and/or academics is no excuse for me to be a bad teacher. It pushes me to be an even better teacher. And when this year is done and I look back, I hope that it will be evident that they have learned something. 

As a teacher, you will have unbelievably bad circumstances. Teachers absolutely have a hard job, but there’s no excuse. We have our nation's future in our hands. We should not take that lightly. Therefore, even when I feel like there's is nothing left to give, thankfully God steps in and takes over. It's then when I see amazing things come from my students.  I see students who have never picked up a book begin to read in such a way that they can't put the book down.  I overhear students debating how to solve a difficult math problem.  I watch a boy who was so angry begin to show compassion to a younger student.  That is God.  I take no credit.  I am only the means by which God can step in and reach these kids.  So when you think you have nothing left to give, remember that God is the one working through you.  It depends on Him, not you.