To do your job well because it’s meaningful is - wonderful, great, fantastic - but to be valued and recognized for that which you do every day is empowering. Oftentimes the concept of education is centered solely around the students. Teachers get reprimanded for students not passing standardized tests. They may be considered too hard or too easy in the classroom. It’s hard to find a teacher that is “just right” but if they are, beware, because then they are given more than they can feasibly do with the time they have. Educators also convince themselves that “it’s all about the students” and although I agree that the students are fundamental in our teachings, we fail to recognize our own inspirations and voices in trying to help students achieve theirs. Therein lies a fault in our system because how can a person inspire others to be successful if they themselves can’t find it within?
Teaching is difficult and no two difficulties are alike. Yes, it is true, in my class we make maps with play-doh, plant seeds, watch them grow, harvest and then cook it, go on field trips, and as a public school educator, I have a good chunk of time off. I also will never get a raise in the current district I am in, I grade 140 papers per assignment and they're not multiple choice (if I give 5 assignments a week how many papers am I grading?), and spend my breaks grading papers, planning, buying materials for the classroom, setting up field trips, and writing grants. I do this because I can’t help myself. I need to continue to grow as a teacher, to keep learning, offering opportunities, and taking them as they come….
So what I say is recognize that what you do is valuable even if you think no one is watching. That is truly when I feel like my best self in the classroom.
I say this because the trajectory of my life has quite simply changed in the past couple of years and it started with the National Geographic Educator Certification. It was then compounded by that phone call I received in February of 2019. I had applied to be a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow. I'm not gaining anything by putting National Geographic as an organization at the forefront of this transition in life nor am I trying to say that they are greatness, but what inspires me about this organization is that they're inspired by teachers, librarians, artists and explorers, scientists, and historians, archaeologists, and youth. To be a part of this community has given me a new perspective on how to reach people, the environment and our youth.
It is a crazy time indeed, and I hope that everyone is doing their best to keep their head above water, their feet on the ground as they continue to pave their way and that of their students. Keep at it, fighting the good fight, and enjoying yourself while being true to yourself, the profession, and the students.