|Photos by The Langs|
I'm not one to speak out much about events or issues, especially on this blog, my happy place. But I guess I need to heal a little bit.
My thoughts this last weekend was on being a teacher.
Since becoming a mom, this is my 2nd school year not working in an elementary school. I taught 5th grade for three years. I subbed before that. I was a student teacher before that. I volunteered in several classrooms (for college courses) before that. Teaching in elementary school has been a huge part of my life thus far.
Usually when someone asks me if I loved teaching school, I say "Yes... well, most days I loved it."
It's true. I did love it. I feel like I was born to do it. I loved interacting with kids. I loved making them laugh. I loved teaching them a new concept, then watching them apply it. I loved telling stories, reading books, nourishing their creativity, celebrating the successes, learning their likes/dislikes, playing kickball, watching them make new friends, singing with them, discovering with them, etc. Teaching is so rewarding in these aspects. My hands are shaking even as I type this because I miss these aspects so so so very much.
But there were days when it was physically and emotionally so difficult to exert every portion of my energy, thought, effort, strength and soul towards 30 (or so) 5th graders. Thirty individuals I was trying to reach out to. Thirty individuals I was trying to help realize their potential. Thirty individuals I was trying to make their days better. Thirty individuals I was trying to help them feel worth, feel empowered, feel great.
I couldn't do it some days. I'm human. Their failures became my failures, every one of them. I cried those days that I felt like I couldn't do it. I may have cried quite a bit. (My eternal thanks to those who listened to me on those days I cried.)
No matter how hard those days were, they still needed me. They needed me to listen to their story of what happened at recess. They needed me to laugh at their silly jokes. They needed me to teach them fractions (sometimes over and over and over again) so they could feel confident for the quiz. They needed me to come to school an hour earlier so I could educate them on sea stars in Oceanography Club. They needed me to get them a bandaid, give them a snack, call their mom, take them on field trips etc. etc. etc. So on those hard days, I put on a face, and did the best I could. I just had to hope it mattered.
But, boy, did I love those kids. Every. Single. One. Including the ones that I wished would be kinder, or the ones I wished would try harder... I still think about those kids so much. And I hope they are doing okay.
Whether or not you like school, it's an important aspect of every person's life. It is incredibly difficult for me to watch a place of refuge, learning, and innocence, become a place of unimaginable horror. On top of everything that teachers have to do and worry about, to think what they had to do in Sandy Hook at that moment of terror, is just monumental.
And of course, those tiny students... I'm absolutely numb.
I guess after everything that has happened this weekend, what I'm trying to say is this: Please don't underestimate what a teacher does. Even the ones who seem to be quietly doing their job. And make sure to say "Thank You" to a teacher as often as you can.
You better believe I thought about my own students this weekend... and of course I hope they are doing okay. Every single one.
And thank you again, teachers. I hope you feel appreciated.