16 August 2011

I am. . .

. . . a teacher.

And I am not ashamed of this. Nor do I regret it. In fact, I think I have the greatest job in the world, because I get to work with the greatest people in the world.

When I tell people I'm a teacher I get very mixed reactions, usually leaning on the "oooh. . . well, that sucks. . . " side. I get the "you're so young to teach high school!" and the "Oh, I'm sorry - I'd never be able to teach teenagers, they're so awful," and the "Well, SOMEONE has to do it." Every time I wish I could let these naysayers see what I see.

I remember being a teenager. I got sick to death of hearing people saying that I would understand when I was in the "real" world. (What about my life wasn' t "real"?) That I was part of a selfish/entitled generation. (I had a job, turned in assignments on time, and helped make sure my house stayed clean, among other things.) That teenagers were rowdy, rebellious and underdressed. (I was none of these things.) I didn't like the stigma of irresponsibility, and nothing got up my gander more than people ignoring my opinions or patronizing me. I see the way people look at teenagers this way still.

But it isn't what I see. It never was.

I see a group of people who are full of possibilities. Who don't need to be pitied or pandered to or appeased - but a group of people who, even in their most disillusioned and jaded attitudes, don't want to be in a class that is boring. I see a group of people who want to learn and take on real-world problems. I see a group of people who are fun and smart and capable of so much more than people think. They come with limitations and baggage and inexperience, but when they come - and their time is not wasted - most of the time they will grow and excel beyond what any awful bureaucratic system would be able to measure with a scantron sheet.

Today I greeted a variety of students and parents at back to school night. Some of them I knew from past classes. Many I did not know. Several people from both groups - the known and the unknown - have come to this school because of the class that I team teach. People who are coming from as far as 30 minutes away, every day, because they believe in this class. It is humbling, a huge honor, and further proof to me that I have picked the right career. I love it. I love being a force for good. I love the reassurance I get from students and parents that what I do is valuable. It is an absolute honor to have been blessed with the chance to work with so many who believe so much of me, instead of so little (as seems to be common in schools any more.)

So, new school year? I'm ready for you. Not with all the materials I need and units prepared, perhaps - but with enthusiasm and determination to do great things.


Rebecca O'Bryan said...

You inspire me. Good luck on doing the same to a whole new classroom this year.

Nanakat said...

Your post made me think of a teaching opportunity I had a few years ago. I taught seriously watered-down physics in what was basically a "home/hospital" teaching arrangement at a drug-rehab-treatment center, and my students were junior high and high school kids all struggling with overcoming drug addictions.

They could very easily have qualified as "rowdy, rebellious and underdressed," but the rules of the center didn't allow that, and the students were expected to "police" themselves. They were an amazing bunch of kids, and I really enjoyed working there. (I am no longer there because of problems that had nothing to do with the kids.)

Because the physics had to be so "watered-down" (the classes were for an hour or two each week and they couldn't have homework), I spent as much time as I could trying to help them learn how to think about the things that physics deals with. For example, when we talked about motion, I tried to help them see why a car that goes off the road is likely to roll over--my hope is that I might have saved lives in their futures.

Anyway, more power to you! Teenagers are totally awesome!