Posted: February 17, 2020
Talking with colleagues always inspires me, and my conversation with Evan did just that. The conversation connected back to our theme for the year, each story matters and collectively we impact our shared stories.
Evan shared that ten years into his teaching career he has grown a lot as a professional. Students, colleagues, mentors, experiences, … have all pushed his thinking and skills to the teacher he is today. With that growth, the job still feels really challenging. In fact, it actually feels more difficult than in the past. It’s kind of a weird paradox, the more we know, the more difficult the challenge. It got me thinking about the start of my teaching career. I was really young and although I thought I was ready, looking back on myself I had so much to learn.
Education was different when I started in 1995. Unfortunately, for some of my students, I didn’t even recognize barriers that were getting in the way of learning. When students didn’t fit into our schools, they were removed. As a rookie teacher, I didn’t really think about where they went or what happened to them, I just moved on without them. Now I understand that each student is our student. Our community is better if we can support their growth, not just send them away. It is difficult work, because for a lot of valid reasons, students aren’t ready to learn. Our plans don’t always work and there are so many needs. It can be pretty heavy carrying around the frustration and uncertainty.
I asked Evan to share his thoughts about his journey and some of the challenges of teaching today.
Thank you for letting me share my perspective, voice, and journey through this profession with you. Jeff and I met initially, to discuss student growth and professional growth goal setting. As I prepared, my thinking of professional growth, evolved into the growth of the profession, and the space I take up in it.
Through reflection, and conversation with other teachers, colleagues, friends and even acquaintances, I have been faced with a common theme, and it has left me thinking.
We, as educators, are often told that our job is more difficult, demanding and important than ever. Our students are faced with more pressures academically, socially, and emotionally than ever before. Trauma is real, anxiety is real, depression is real. And our students are affected by these things more than ever. The more I learn about these things, the more I see it, and the more I realize I don’t know how to help. I’ve also come to recognize that our students are not the only ones being more affected by trauma, anxiety and depression. Sometimes as the educator or leader, we are caught in a space where we need to put on the oxygen mask first to help ourselves, and then reach to help the student next to us.
We have a privileged job. We are called to this profession to make an impact. To make a difference and positively influence the future of as many students’ lives as possible. With action being the topic of this conversation, I wish I had more solutions, more ways to ensure the path of growth to be a constant upward trend for everyone, while I have some, I don’t have them all. Even still, the action I strive to take, is to velcro the good, and while learning along the way teflon the bad. By taking a stance that people generally do the best they know how to or are able to do, and staying regulated myself, I am constantly working to provide an environment that is healthy, safe, engaging, supportive and challenging for students. Staying grounded in my values and my ‘why’ help focus the action of this hard work.
Our job is hard. Even so, when looking at the students we serve, the relationships we’ve fostered, and growth we’ve supported there is hope and joy to be found.