Thank you for following the Reality 101 blog for the past year. Your input has been vital to my growth as a first-year teacher. As I write my last blog for CEC, I am editing lessons for next year, collaborating via e-mail with colleagues and reading a few more professional development books all before I go to a leadership summit in a few days and begin the school year in two weeks.
Many of you who follow the blog were pre-service teachers and are now anxiously awaiting the first day of pre-planning or your teacher induction exercises. I applaud you for dedicating your lives for at least the next 200 days to an often thankless, demanding, low paying, highly regulated, and fiercely stigmatized profession. I understand you do it for the students, those who cannot advocate for themselves, resting their futures in your hands.
This is a responsibility that can never be adequately compensated. However, compensation is not what we are here for. We are not here for money, nor thank yous. We are compensated through the small miracles of the student with a learning disability, who finally understands what it means to read and understand a passage, or for the EBD student, who advocates for himself or herself appropriately. We are there for the students that many want nothing to do with. This does not mean that others are bad or have some incorrect moral code. It means that we have a calling that few were fortunate to receive.
While you prepare for your first year or another year of teaching, I want to ensure you are aware that there is more at stake than the success of your caseload. Our profession is under attack. Almost daily there is an article blasting the failures of educators, schools, and accusations of scandal and incompetence. Be ready. Be ready to work under the scrutiny of the entire world. Be ready to be compared to the teacher down the hall or on the other side of the country. Be ready to stand up. Be ready to advocate for your profession just as you advocate for your students.
Express your concerns that teaching is becoming a scripted exercise on the path of replacing teachers for recordings. Express your needs just as you express them for your students. Do not be afraid to speak up because nothing will change if you do not. This means you must utilize the system to change it. Educate yourself on the bureaucracy and learn how to use it to your advantage. Use the system to change the focus from students as products on an assembly line, to impressionable minds that hold our future in their hands. Push to support the whole child–intellect, emotions, imagination, and body. Do not become preoccupied with projected performance on standardized test; become preoccupied with growing the best person you can.
Education is the most self-fulfilling profession. Without us, there would be no other profession. It is a badge of pride and an honor to be an educator. Wear your badge with pride! Wear the bags under your eyes, the grey in your hair, the supersized extra shot coffee, the stacks and stacks of papers and reports proudly. We have the most important job in the country and we are some of the most important people in the world.
No matter how bad your day is, how behind you are on paperwork, how overwhelming it becomes; remember you are important, you are needed, you are looked up to, and you are appreciated. You may not be reminded of it often, but millions appreciate you. We are all rooting for your success and are here to help whenever and however we are able. Welcome new teachers, thank you returning teachers!