This I Believe

Sloane - Houma, Louisiana
Entered on October 5, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I suspected that I wouldn’t last long as a teacher. I haven’t quit yet, but I can feel it coming. Day in and day out, teachers in America do things for their students that most parents don’t want to do for their own children. Americans are quite happy to dish out some of the less-than-savory aspects of child-rearing to educators who are in return paid less than most professionals are willing to accept.

I like the idea of kids. I like what they represent: creativity, personality, spirit, honesty. I like that they keep it real. There is no lying to children. If you look terrible, they will tell you. If your lesson is boring, they won’t hold back. And while holding one’s tongue is a valuable skill that children should learn, nine times out of ten, they were probably right. I probably did look like a pile that day, and my lesson was more than likely quite boring.

Teachers amaze me. Not just the super teachers, but really most of them in general. Clearly there are lackluster teachers, just as there are less-than-effective real estate agents, financial planners, and customer service representatives. Possibly there are even some just-average doctors and dentists out there. Teachers are amazing because they still get up and do this thing every day. They stand in front of (or sit down next to) a crying kindergarten or a taunting teenager. Sometimes they have nagging fear in the pit of their stomachs. Often they are not completely sure if what they are about to attempt will work. Frequently they are doing their work with insufficient supplies and unhelpful bosses.

Shame on me for hoping I could be a super teacher. I had no idea what that meant. It is not enough to be qualified, to be a hard worker, and set some goals based on your ideals. You have to live it, breathe it, and be it. For most mere mortals like myself, the pace required for such work is unsustainable. Muddling here through my fourth year, I feel exhausted.

Articles and studies abound on new teachers and why leave the profession. Fifty percent of all teachers leave the profession within five years. Fifty percent.

But the violence is what got me this week. The violence is the thing that really burns me and it is the motivation for raising my voice now. It is the thing which causes me to stay up late to write this, even though I am exhausted and still unprepared for a tomorrow which is only seven hours away. Kids are shooting us. And strangers are coming into our buildings and shooting our kids. I believe that this will get worse before it gets better. I believe that people in our country are crying for help. I believe that their pleas are falling on deaf ears.