A lot of people don’t know this about me, but I’m sensitive. A downright crybaby. Sometimes, I think I should’ve been a Cancer instead of an Aries. I’m my harshest critic, I replay every mistake I make over and over and over again until I finally get over it, I let others’ comments affect me way too much, I take entirely too much accountability of my own and others’ actions, I’m meticulous and conscientious to a fault, and my own personal nickname for myself is Sentimental Sally. I also happen to have a killer poker face, so of course, I ended up becoming a teacher!
Teaching was not always something I wanted to do. Like most little girls, I did my fair share of teaching stuffed animals, writing imaginary pink slips, and taking the attendance of fake students on a sheet of grid paper. I even won a poster decorating contest for my 8th grade career orientation class in which I shared my aspiration of becoming a kindergarten teacher (I now cackle at the fact that I wanted to teach kindergarten).
Once I started high school, however, the teaching dream ended and the writing dream began. I decided I wanted to become a journalist. I wanted my very own magazine or newspaper column like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex & the City and I planned on also writing a book or two and having at least one of those books turned into a movie. You know, nothing too wild. I was even a print journalism major my first year of college. But once I realized print was a dying industry, I made the executive decision to change my major.
Another thing about me is that I’m crazy. Quirky and eccentric in all the right ways, I decided that if I wasn’t going to write professionally, I’d teach kids how to write. So middle level education it was! One of my favorite college professors once said you have to be a little crazy to teach middle school, and she was one hundred percent correct. Who would voluntarily sign up to go toe to toe with multiple classes full of pre-adolescent children for nine months out of the year? Certainly not somebody playing with a full deck of cards. But education, pre-teen hormones, and I immediately clicked, and I’ve truly enjoyed the journey thus far.
Throughout my teaching career, I can honestly say the good has outweighed the bad. But, of course, there have been those moments, days, weeks, months, SCHOOL YEARS, that have completely shaken my confidence to the core and had me ending the day at my desk, lights off, blinds closed, door shut thinking, “Bruh, I’m not coming back tomorrow.”
Like having four 11-year-old boys break into a fight in your classroom.
Or a kid ripping posters and anchor charts off of your wall, knocking everything off your small group table, and proceeding to lay down on top of your cubbies because you didn’t advance him a spelling group.
Having a little girl sit in your classroom, remove her pretty crochet braids during your lesson, and casually toss her weave in the trash can as if it were the perforated edge of a sheet of notebook paper.
Having a student intentionally disrespect you during an observation.
Having a kid cuss you out.
Having a kid throw up all over your classroom five minutes before an important observation.
Having a colleague judge you.
Having those days when the kids, you, or everybody just isn’t feeling it.
Because I am the way I am (refer to paragraph 1), it doesn’t take much for me to beat myself up and throw myself a pity party as soon as I’m alone after a series of unfortunate events. I start feeding myself an unhealthy amount of lies and thinking thoughts like: “I’m not built for this.” “I need to find another career.” “Am I even sure I want to be a teacher?” “Why am I even doing this?” I’m extra like that.
Or maybe I’m not. Teaching is hard. It’s legit the hardest thing I’ve ever done and continue to choose to do in my life. People may think our work is easy, we get easy, breezy extended breaks and summers off, we’re nothing but glorified babysitters, we make lunch money for living (ok, what we make up against what we do really is a joke), and that all we do is teach kids how to color in cute classrooms and clock out by 3:30. It’s funny because those same people wouldn’t last thirty minutes doing what we do – let alone the ungodly hours of unpaid overtime it takes to make our students successful. Stuffed animals, fake write ups, and fake students ain’t got nothing on real kids who come to school with real needs in need of real support every. single. day.
But this isn’t a post to convince you that my career is important, because if I still have to do that in 2020, you’re either not very smart or not very nice, and I don’t associate with people like you. Plus, it’s hard to deny the impact and importance of teachers given the current state of the world. The ‘Rona has come and completely dismantled life as we know it. We can’t work (unless you’re essential – hats off to you!), go out, or turn up. All we can do is “wash our hands and stay out of folks’ faces” – my cousin, a nurse.
We can also reflect, which is what I’ve been doing a lot of lately. Being forced to sit down and be still with nothing but my hobbies and thoughts, I’ve realized something; teaching isn’t what I do, it’s who I am.
**cue sappy Full House music**
My job is worth it because I work hard. I’m equipped to do what I do because I’ve been called to do what I do. And if I ever doubt myself again, all I have to do is think about the good:
Like the look on a kid’s face when they finally get it.
Having twenty-four 5th graders get permission to use the poster maker just to make you a banner for your birthday.
Having former students hit you up on Instagram for help on making a Punnett square.
Lunches with students full of laughs and stories.
Using the last five minutes of class to help somebody name their new puppy.
Comforting little people with big emotions.
Being a trusted adult in scary situations.
Tears of joy.
Kids calling you mama – on purpose.
Giving “relationship” advice to 5th grade boys.
Hands to hold and hugs to give (pre-Rona of course).
God is love. I am love. Why do I do what I do? It’s simple. Love.
X’s and O’s,