Friday, May 23, 2014

People are not the enemy, people are the prize.

Well despite my best effort to slow it down... another year is over.  Yesterday and today I am giving one last final assignment.  It's the assignment where I am gasping at the air trying to ensure that I have taught them what is important.  The assignment that I keep and read through over and over and over again this summer as I am preparing to do it all over again.....

"How am I a different person than when I walked through these doors 9 months ago."

For some reason this year feels a little bit different.  If you remember back here I decided I was going to try and be the best teacher I have ever been.  And I am humbled to say, I think I succeeded.  So badly I wish it was socially acceptable to have everyone read these responses from my students.  Not to make sure that everyone knows that I am one fantastic teacher, but to see what I was working so hard to create.  You know, it's totally normal for an artist to have an art show or a musician to hold a concert.... but I feel like the only people that fully understand what I work so hard to create in my classroom are the 15 year old.... well and the parents that they talk to.... maybe... if they actually talk to them.  

Maybe I don't deserve a pat on the back, maybe I am not doing something worth a whole audience viewing..... but I guess the reason why so badly I want people to read these assignments is because I feel like my work life has turned into a huge battle.  Once again, because this is a "public" forum I won't go into details, but I feel like my working life, especially when I care the most and am making the biggest difference in kids life, is more and more battles to fight just so I can actually help kids.

But I guess that is why assigning these students this last assignment is so important to me as a teacher that gets no extrinsic reward for going to battle for them.  I have to remember that every single student that I impact, every time a student makes a better decision, every time they change..... that is the prize.  That is what I am fighting for.

So every time a student writes that because of this class he is going to work harder, be kinder, and consciously try and improve society... I remember why it is worth the fight. 

I don't know why God blessed me to have the gifts and talents that He did. I don't know why, despite my best effort not to be, He made me a teacher.  I don't know why He put these 284 teenage kids in my class.  I don't know a lot of things.  But as I read these final assignments the only two words I can use to describe the feelings I feel are absolute humility and hope.  I have so much hope in humanity because of what I see can happen to 284 punk teens every year.  And like I said, I don't know why God gave me this gift.  This gift to witness it first hand.  Sure there are lots of sweat and tears but like Thomas Pain said,

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods.”

 So I guess I value these assignments.... these kids' candid words.... because I know how hard it was to teach them, guide them, mold them.... and I am so excited to see that they really got it.  But more important, I am so excited to see what becomes of them because of it. 


1 comment:

Camile said...

I liked how you mentioned the artist and musician thing. So true! But yet as a teacher what do you have to show for all the hard work you've put in? That's awesome that you achieved your goal of being the best teacher this year. Lucky kids who got to have you!