So I was reminded today why I originally applied for this job and haven’t fully taken teaching off the table (though don’t get your hopes up). Which is good because there has been a lot of angst on this blog as of late (okay as of always, my tombstone will read: She had a lot of angst, good thing she also had Jesus).
I think I’ve mentioned it before, but on Fridays my school has this thing called Town Meeting, where all the students and staff gather in the forum. There are announcements and then usually some kind of program: we’ve had debates to create new school policies, a celebration to honor national Hispanic month, and today we had a speaker from Boston University.
I wish I could still remember his name, he was engaging and really speaking to our students (just the 9th and 10th graders since the 11th and 12th were out at a college fair). Yet, the students weren’t fully listening, not just on the basic level (seriously these kids need to just shut up and listen sometimes!), but it didn’t feel like they were totally getting it.
At one point he was talking about how the school was not only a charter school, but a college preparatory school and how in the first 5 minutes of being here he had seen the word college 7 times. He talked about how they were advantaged and not disadvantaged. They had so many support systems in place here. Then he talked about how they had chosen to come here and they had to think about that. And so many protested crying out about how their parents made them come. And yet they were still here.
Many of these kids talk about how hard the school is and yet, part of why the school is so hard for them is because they weren’t being challenged at their old schools. Many of our students come in as 9th graders, but reading more like 6th graders. A chunk of our students are on 5 year plans. Our students often feel frustrated, but what’s awesome about this school is that we want every kid to graduate well educated, having the skills and ability to be successful in college. So if that means they’re here a little longer, so be it; we want them to succeed.
Here’s the last bit where some of the kids scoffed. He talked about the teachers at this school: they are under paid, but they’re here because they care a lot.
Despite what some of these kids think, that is why I’m here. That is why I’m trying to focus less and less on my personal frustrations and just doing my best to really improve. That is why I put in work and effort into my lesson plans. That is why I try to engage and get every kid interested and learning. And I know if that’s how I feel after just 5 weeks I can’t imagine the love some of these teachers, who have been here for years, have for these kids.
Because at the end of the day as a Christian I know that what matters most in this world is investments of love. There’s a reason Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were to love God with all our hearts, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Now I can’t say that I magically love every student (I am only human), but I’m trying to let go of my insistence to dislike them, let go of the need to be liked by them. Because I’m here to invest in them, because for me I can teach no matter how they feel about me, but I know they’re going to do their best learning when they know that I care.