My personal adverse childhood is worth a full memoir by itself. The push and pull of my childhood is spotted with vague memories of school, but more so of the stresses at home. The memories I recall from my schooling were not that of learning my ABCs and how to divide multi digit numbers. I don’t remember learning the continents and oceans- matter of fact I remember learning them as an adult when I became a teacher myself. What I do remember are the teachers that made me feel safe. The teachers that taught me how to build relationships. The teachers that made me feel like someone. The teachers that showed me my resilience.
In high school I decided I would be a child psychologist to help kids who have gone through what I have been through. I was committed to making sure that they had the tools they needed to overcome any adversities. Towards the end of high school I realized that kids, like me, who truly need help are not typically going to be able to afford a child psychologist. In thinking about how to make myself available for the community I was hoping to serve, I remembered a choir teacher who had once observed me helping a classmate and told me I would make a great teacher.
Starting college I knew I needed to be a teacher where I would spend more than 40 hours a week with students and kids who needed someone. I became acutely aware of the impact I could have on their lives in just one year. I decided I could not have the impact I was hoping for only seeing a child for weekly sessions. Besides, I knew I needed to be there for the kids that weren’t getting weekly sessions with a counselor or psychologist.
My favorite part of teaching is that I get to challenge students to be their best selves. My favorite days are when we find profound life lessons in ordinary days. Watching them grow and discover their own values is the simplest form of magic. I am in awe of their strength and resilience and feel lucky that I get to show my students how to unlock their potential.
I am starting my 11th year of teaching and I am affirmed that this last decade of my life was a calling. A calling to inspire, but more importantly be inspired. Teaching is hard. Really hard. If it’s not hard, you are not doing it right. It is challenging because it is important. I know the challenges and tears I have shed in my classroom are more than 100% worth it for every single child I have been lucky enough to teach.
School is important. Reading and writing are important. Multiplication and fractions are important. Academics are important. What is more important is the actual human experience. The students will rarely remember all of the instructional lessons and they are only a google search away from being able to recall what they need. What they will not forget is how they felt in the space we shared called a classroom.
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