Tag: children

The Heart of a Teacher (The Untold Story)

When I envisioned becoming a teacher, I pictured standing in front of a classroom presenting these beautiful, heartfelt lessons to the enthusiastic students seated in front of me who were just as excited about education and who were ready and eager to learn. While I didn’t go into teaching to feel a sense of power, I certainly thought I would at least earn respect from my students, their parents, and the community. We would all work together to ensure the success of every child in my classroom. Hey, maybe we would even lock arms and sing, “We Are the World,” overwhelmed by just how much we had done that would impact the world within that year those students were a part of my class. (Okay, so that might be taking it a bit far.)

                                                   

I was a bit naive about how things would really go down, but is it too much to ask for me to have something close to that? Suprisingly, yes it is. The reality is that my classroom is far from magical, and every day is a battle to get my students to be enthusiastic about the learning process.

But what surprises me even more about everything (and what this post is really about) is how ignorant everyone else is about exactly what it is that teachers are required to do. People truly believe that our days begin and end with the ringing of the school bell, that the only time we spend working is during those “work hours.”  How hard can it be, right?  It infuriates me when someone comments on the number of days off that we have, citing the breaks and holidays, as if those days off make our job any easier or when someone who has never been in the classroom wants to tell me what they would do if they had to deal with a particular situation in my class as if I am too ignorant to have thought of the same solutions. (I would never allow a student to speak to me like that. Why don’t you just throw him/her out? You just have to have discipline and the kids will behave.) Boy, please!

                                                                 

The thing is, it’s not easy. People don’t really understand just how difficult this career is, just how many different hats teachers are asked to wear, how much pain and happiness our hearts go through in a day while dealing with other people’s children and the endless demands placed upon us. You see, I actually feel like what I spend the least amount of time doing each day is actually teaching the subject that I get paid to teach. Yeah, I said it.

Now, before you freak out, let me explain.

   

Unfortunately, all of my students don’t come to me from perfect homes with supportive parents who are able to help guide them through the many ups and downs of school. Many of my students come to school with so much on their own plates that school is the last thing on their mind. Just this year alone, the stories that I have heard about some of my students’ lives is enough to make many Lifetime Channel movies (and you know how dramatic those can be). The things some of them have dealt with and seen or are currently dealing with is too much for even adults to comprehend, so how do we expect a child (my students are thirteen and fourteen years old) to be able to process what they’re going through or for them to care about what their grade is in my class? My teammates and I have been in tears several times this year as we try to fathom the hurt and pain that some of our students are dealing with every day. We’ve all been to the point where we just want to take some of our students home with us so we can shield them from the frustration and suffering. Yet, I’m supposed to just teach them about essay writing and grammar and everything will be okay?

What about all of the normal teenage issues that kids have to deal with? Although each school level has its own set of problems, I can definitely speak on middle school students and all that they’re going through at this age. Fitting in and learning who they are are the biggest concerns for my students. Their self-worth is based upon their hairstyles, their clothes, the way they think they look, how they speak, the music they listen to, sports they play, what group they hang out with, how many followers they have on Instragram, and the list goes on. It’s very difficult to teach someone who is worried about how everyone around them perceives them or is uncomfortable in their own skin. So I spend a lot of my time dealing with bullying, low self-esteem, conforming to fit in with others, misplaced anger, overwhelming sadness, and a sense of worthlessness or just confusion. It’s impossible to ignore all of this and just try to teach kids who have all of these other issues on their mind. Yet, I’m supposed to just keep on trekking and make sure these students are proficient at picking out the best textual evidence to support their thesis statement and writing a great paper. Really?

Electronics, video games, TV, and social media. Even parents know that these are tough competition. In this age of technology, kids are attached to these items 24/7 and getting them to focus on other subjects can seem impossible. I have kids literally falling asleep throughout the day because they stayed up to 2:00am on the phone watching videos or texting friends. Teachers have to constantly be on top of new fads, working to make lessons as fun and engaging as possible, finding clever ways to infuse the technology the kids love and yes, even social media, into our lessons. In a culture of instant gratification, trying to get kids to slow down and focus on a task that they can’t perfect right away, telling them they will have to practice it over and over again in order to master it, is a monumental task. Yet, I should be able to get my students to write, revise, and edit their essays several times before they turn them in to me. Let’s be realistic, please.

In order not to make this a book, I’ve only pointed out just a few of the issues that we encounter as teachers. Only…a…few. I haven’t even gotten to the fact that in addition to teaching we are expected to still be curriculum specialists, guidance counselors, referees, grief counselors, moms, dads, police officers, advisers, entertainers, data analyzers, be able to supply students with the basic school necessities, keep them engaged, well-behaved, report any inappropriate, suspicious, or below-grade level behavior, serve on different committees, attend numerous workshops, and keep up with every educational trend all while someone sits in the back of our classroom and evaluates our every move or while people sit in their government offices and make decisions that will impact our workload and pay.

Personally, I feel like we’re superheroes in disguise, saving the day behind the scenes, but never getting the credit for all that we do.

So please don’t get upset with me if a child’s test scores is not my first priority. I’m sure that I speak for all teachers when I say that we’re more concerned with the people seated in front of us than the scores on a paper, with the growth and development and the overall well-being of our students than what level they scored on an unfair test. Yes, we do want to see them do well on the tests, to improve and show growth, to be successful in school, but that’s not the end all be all. That’s not our daily motivation. We are focused on the WHOLE child, not just the part evaluated by a test.

And our students see us as more than just teachers. They tell us about their problems, and brag to us about their accomplishments, they get hugs from us to cheer them up or give us hugs to try to cheer us up, they scream our names from down the hallway and run to us to say hello, some adopt us as Mom or Auntie or Uncle and try to invite themselves to dinner at our house, they beg us to come watch them at their games or to read the story they wrote. We are so much more to them and they are so much more to us.

I wish more people would listen to us and understand our hearts, hearts that break for our students as well as swell with pride. What we give our kids can’t be found in a textbook or on the next state assessment.

What we do is more than just teach.

We give our students our hearts.

EVERY SINGLE DAY.

That should count for so much more than any test score.

All of my teacher friends, what do you think? Please feel free to chime and comment below!

 

 

 

5 Things That Make You a Great Mom

I can’t lie about it. While it is extremely rewarding, motherhood is hard!  No one could have told me that it would be this like this. No one could have told me about the emotional ups and downs that I would experience as a mother, one minute wanting your love bug cuddled up next to you and the next minute needing to hide in the bathroom just to have a moment alone. You have your moments of Mommy Pride where you stand a little taller as you watch your child’s performance or when they bring home a good report card or even as you watch them sleeping at night.

But then you also have those moments of guilt where you feel like you’re not doing enough, you’re not good enough, or you’ll never get “it” all done. We even feel guilty about wanting alone time and just wanting to get away from it all. We begin to compare ourselves to the picture perfect moms we see in magazine ads or we see on TV or that people post on their social media pages. We start feeling as if we’re the world’s worst mom, that everyone else has it all together, and that our children are being deprived of a great parent.

Mommy Guilt is so real, so sad, and so hurtful to us.

We judge ourselves so harshly as if we are never allowed to have an off moment. Being a mom is the one job that comes with no manual, no set of instructions, no training in preparation for it. We are all doing the best that we can, and we deserve a pat on the back (or a nice trip to the spa) for all that we do.

Here are 5 things that make YOU a great mom:

Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash

  1. You provide for your kids’ needs, and you try to give them most of what they want. I know people are thinking, “That’s not a big deal. That’s what you’re supposed to do.” However, if you think about it, this is a pretty BIG deal. Making sure to provide for your children probably takes precedent over your taking care of yourself. Most of us will go without something we need or want just to make sure our children have what they need. That type of selflessness is commendable and although it just comes naturally to moms, it is worthy of honor. In a time where people are driven by their own selfish desires, being a mom who gives her last and her best for her child is amazing.     Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash
  2. You discipline them and teach them right from wrong. While it’s easy to be distracted by how cute your child is, there comes times when you have to correct them for what they’ve done wrong. You know what’s best for them even if they don’t believe it. So while those tears may be hard for you to see, the fact that you must instill in them the values and morals that they will need in order to be successful in life is more important than trying to avoid seeing a few tears. You know that in the long run having children who will go on to become well-disciplined and self-sufficient adults is so much more important than trying to make them happy all of the time.         Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash
  3. You hurt when they hurt. I know nothing breaks a mom’s heart more than seeing her child hurting and not being able to do something about it. That’s part of the reason that disciplining can be so hard. We feel their pain; we have a deep connection with them and that mama bear in us wants to jump in and protect. That instinct to protect our children makes us special because that level of love is unmatched. We’d give our lives to make sure our children are protected and do whatever it takes to make sure they are comforted in their time of need.                                                                                                                           
  4. You dream about their future and the adults they will become one day. Prom. Graduation. College. Wedding. Family. As a mom, you don’t just worry about your child during their childhood, you hope and dream about the bright future that you see for them. That’s why you work so hard, why you discipline and talk to them, and why you try your best to set them on the right path. All you want is the best for your child, so although you still have dreams for yourself, your child’s future success is always at the front of your mind. It’s why you will sit with them for hours assisting with homework or why you will sign them up for activities that will help them pursue their passions.  If you could, you would create the future that you wanted for them, free from all hurt, harm, or danger, and give them the best life you possibly could ensuring success in everything they do.                                                                                                                     Photo by Marco Ceschi on Unsplash
  5. You spend quality time with them. All of the toys, money, and gifts in the world can’t equate to the time that you spend with your child. Don’t get down if you can’t provide them with the “best of the best” of everything. So what if you can’t take them on a Disney vacation every year? In the end, that’s not what’s going to matter or what they’re going to remember. They will remember the bedtime stories, the trips to the local park, the encouraging words you gave as they tried something new or struggled with something difficult, the way you comforted them when they were sick or were crying, laughs you shared around the dinner table, and the nights snuggled up on the couch watching a good movie.  What matters is the time you spend with them. And as the saying goes, it’s about the quality, not the quantity.

I promise you that what you’re doing right now IS enough.

All of the other things that we feel like we should be doing are just fluff, the extra icing on the cake. I’m not saying that being the team mom for your son’s football team, or making homemade costumes that will rival anything found on Pinterest, or being able to feed your kids organic, homemade food every day is not important; however, if that is how you measure your worth as a mom, you’re wrong. Who cares if this time you picked up the store-bought costume before you swung by McDonald’s on the way home from a long and exhausting day at work? Give yourself a break. Yes, our jobs are to provide the best life that we can for our children, but the problem comes when we begin to compare ourselves to other moms or when we set impossibly high standards for ourselves based on unrealistic expectations or when we don’t give ourselves credit for all that we do.

You’re a mom, not Superwoman (although I think we should earn that title for all that we do).

Cut yourself some slack. When you look back, what are the things that really stand out to you when you think about your mother or the woman who helped to raise you? Are you being judgmental about her parenting skills or are the first things that come to mind only about how much you know she loved you, the little things she did for you, and overall how she made you feel? I know what I think of when I think of my own mother and all that she did and provided for me. Knowing what I know now about parenting, I admire her strength, love, and tenacity even more.

You’re doing a great job. Don’t let anyone (not even yourself) tell you differently. Instead of trying to find new ways to be a “better” mom, take time out for yourself. Have that glass of wine. Spend some time with friends. Go on a mini-vacay alone. Believe me, you’ll come back refreshed and ready to take on motherhood even more. Taking care of you is the best way to make sure you’re always ready to take care of your kids. You deserve it.

And your kids will thank you for it.

The Entitled Generation

*Disclaimer: This is a bit of a rant.

I apologize in advance.

I had to get this off my chest.

As a child, I remember hearing the phrase, “You don’t get something for nothing,” and I realized that in order to get something, I needed to earn it. Whether this was referring to earning grades, awards, or money, it was the same idea. You get from life what you put into it. I understood the concept that hard work would be rewarded and no one wins at everything. Hard work, dedication, and perseverance were  keys to success.

The same concept seems to be neither taught nor understood by this current generation of children, the generation that includes my own children as well as the students I teach. I think this school year has been my most frustrating one out of the sixteen that I have been teaching. I don’t think I have ever had so many students angry with me because they did not receive an ‘A’ in my class for just being present in the room on a regular basis. The amount or quality of the “work” that they turned in or whether or not they actually turned in any work at all seemed to be of no consequence. They felt they should get a passing grade just because they came to class, just because they were nice, just because they got an ‘A’ on that one assignment that one time, etc.

It is extremely frustrating!

When did we start teaching kids that just because they are alive, the universe and all of the people in it owe them something? When did we start teaching kids that everyone is equal in talent and ability at everything? When did we start teaching kids that having a talent meant that they didn’t have to work hard because that talent would just carry them along to success?

I see it every day. Students who earn high test scores on standardized tests automatically seem to believe that their test scores entitle them to an ‘A’ in a class, that the mediocre work that they turn in to the teacher is acceptable and they don’t need to do any more than that. I see talented singers and dancers at the school who think that they don’t need to actually rehearse for a performance, that they can just get on stage and magic will happen. It’s in the struggling learner who feels that because everyone knows that it’s harder for them to learn, that they shouldn’t really have to work at all, that the teacher should just have sympathy as well as low expectations and gift them with a passing grade. (more…)