This cartoon made me laugh out loud this morning.
I just want to clarify -- that I do actually love my job most of the time. More this year than ever before. I don't know if my eight months of maternity leave helped crystallize for me why I'm a teacher, or what. But I am feeling more optimistic than I have in years, despite the many obstacles in the way.
Most of my students face difficult challenges in their lives. It's not fair. Say what you will about poverty, violence, parental responsibility -- my kids didn't ask to be born into poverty. Once they get here and what they do about it is another matter.
I love most of my students. I try to establish a rapport with them, because it makes my life easier in the long run. I want my students to know that I believe in them, and I hope that they believe in me.
And when I tell them they can do anything, I mean it. They can. But it's going to be really tough, and they are not going to get much support on the way. Which is unfair. I try to at least give them the basics -- my kids can all write five paragraph essays, and most can tell me what a verb is.
Is that enough? No, but it's a start. I also try to praise them as much as I possibly can. I know that some people think that creates unrealistic expectations, and I can accept that argument. Especially in reference to middle class students -- they seem to have quite unrealistic expectations, and often require effusive praise for doing what usually amounts to very little.
But most of my students need some praise in their lives. Most live in homes with an adult or adults who don't pay much attention to them. So I do the best I can to make up for that deficit.
You can tell me that our schools are a joke. You can tell me I'm an idiot. You can tell me that none of this matters. But you can't tell me that my students are not worth this. They are worth a lot more. But this is what I can give them.