A Teacher’s Sob Story
I have not been on top of my game this year. I have a plethora of excuses that range from finishing my research project to pressures of Common Core gaps or my own son beginning Kindergarten and the extra parental responsibilities involved with that. Whatever the reason I have spent most of the year feeling ineffective and tired. I have considered leaving teaching altogether and maybe starting my own business or being a stay at home mom. I have dealt with feeling like I short-changed the 120 kids I was responsible for teaching while also short-changing my own kids at home. Don’t get me wrong, I tried my best everyday but for the first time in my career I felt like it was never enough.
How My Students Changed that Sob Story this Week
It started last week with one of my student’s from last year upset that a parent bailed on his track meet. I promised I would come watch him at the county championship and bring my big shiny camera to take lots of pictures. The day of the meet I was tired. It had been a long day and the last thing I wanted to do was stand out in the 40 degree weather. I missed my own kids who I had seen minimally that week but my husband reminded me that this kid needed me more so I went. I hadn’t more than sat down in the full stands before my former student saw me from the track made his way through the stands to hug me and thank me for coming. He beamed with pride and gratefulness and for the first time in a while I knew that even on that bad day I had made the life of a child better.
Fast forward to the next morning when my students arrived for homework help. I open my doors an hour early three days a week for students to get help, retake tests, do Buzz Math, or whatever else they want. One of my students shows up faithfully nearly every time with a smile on her face ready to work on material she is struggling with. Friday morning she arrived with a bigger smile than usual and beautiful flowers from her mom’s yard. I can’t tell you how blessed I felt that this 13-year-old took time our of her morning to do something to brighten my day. She told me homework help was her favorite part of school. Even at my worst I was the best part of her day.
Today I cried in my room. It wasn’t even a pretty cry. It was the I am completely overwhelmed by how blessed I am cry. My students filled out their annual math K-prep test dedication. I never expect the kids to dedicate their performance to me, sure there are always the few token kids that say me for lack of wanting to think about it but I always really push the kids to dedicate their performance to someone who has motivated them to do better in math. I was overwhelmed when I read them by the kids that dedicated their performance to me. It wasn’t the advanced kids. It wasn’t the well-behaved angels that are always engaged and focused. It was the kids that never do any homework, the kids that roll their eyes every time I speak, the kids that huff and puff and push back against everything I want them to do. Those are the kids that picked me this year.
They said things like:
She never gives up on me
She always let me know that she was there for me and that I was important
She loves us
She makes the boring stuff fun
I have never had a teacher like Mrs. Powers
She is weird but fun
I have a really big teaching challenge next year. I volunteered for it and am looking forward to blogging about it but I also know it will push me to the brink. I will have to bring more to the table everyday. I am nervous about it and worried that I will never be able to do enough for the kids I will teach but the 50 plus kids that dedicated their performance to me this year showed me that even at my worst I was the best they had.