I love this picture. I love it because, to me, it captures both the joy and frustration that teachers experience. As the school year treks forward and the expectations continue to increase, it can be easy for educators to get discouraged if things are not turning out quite as well as hoped. Perhaps the work load is increasing or the kids are misbehaving. Maybe this year, your kids are just not getting it the way that last year's class did. Perhaps you happen to have the one student who has a special talent for driving rational adults crazy. If any of these describe your situation, then I would like to give you a little bit of encouragement ...
Here are some things that you should appreciate about yourself:
1. You are a role model! For many of your students, you might be the only positive adult influence present in their lives. They're learning much more from you than math, science, or reading. They're watching your daily preparation and your work ethic. They're noticing the days that you arrive early and stay late. They look to you for guidance and support. The truth of the matter is that you see your students on a daily basis and sadly, this may be more time than some even spend with their parents.
2. You care! This may sound strange to list as a reason to be appreciated, but that is only because it's something easily taken for granted. For some of your students, you may be the only person who consistently responds to what they do, whether it's good or bad. Don't be surprised if the kid who caused you the most grief ends up your loyalest supporter by the year's end.
3. You empower! We've all heard the maxim, "give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for life." The skills that your students learn, even if they're as simple as getting to class on time, will impact them for the rest of their lives. Henry Adams once said, A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell when his influence stops.
4. You challenge! You push your kids to keep on learning and then you push them more. You show them that sometimes it's good to question things and to form their own opinions. If you are lucky, then you will get to witness when a student realizes that he really can be successful, if he works hard enough.
5. You inspire! On any given day, you never know what you might say or do that will leave a life-long impression on your kids. How many of us became teachers because we were inspired by a great teacher ourselves? How many people pursue careers because they developed a passion in school?
Teaching is difficult because it can take years for us to see the fruits of our labor, but when something goes wrong we notice it right away. As for me, I like to remind myself not to focus on what my kids are like now, but rather on who they can become with the help of a dedicated teacher.
Rosemead High School
El Monte Union High School District