on grace

To be inadequate.  It’s my greatest fear as a teacher. That one feeling nearly causes me to hyperventilate at the beginning of every school year.  I can’t do this. These kids are going to eat me alive. When I began my career, I really had no idea what to expect.  My idealistic approach was to change the world. I would never stress out students with tests and grades. Never.  My classroom would be the best. My students would learn by experience. They would not be afraid to fail. I would offer everything they needed!

It’s a pretty picture, isn’t it?

Now that those days are long gone, I can’t help but giggle at myself a bit.  My guess is, whether you are a new teacher or a veteran, you may have felt the same. The world, if we let it, has a way of crushing our dreams, our influence, and our passion.

Twelve years later, I can’t help but think back to how ill-prepared I was in the beginning of my career, and how more often than not, I was an inadequate teacher.  It’s not that I lacked passion. I just wasn’t prepared for real teaching; In college, I was taught pedagogies and philosophies. My professors did not prepare me for the “this is toooooooo hard” and “When will I ever use this in real life?” My most painful reality was accepting that many students and parents only want the grade, not true growth. I wasn’t ready to battle a generation of narcissism. Truthfully, I didn’t do any of it well.  In fact, I failed.

Thankfully, my failures brought me to a crossroad. I asked myself whether I was going to learn from my failure and try another approach or find a different career?

Over 10 years later, I’m still here. For those of you who are frustrated by what you thought this career would be in contrast with its reality, welcome to the group. You have chosen one of the hardest professions under the sun, but I truly believe it can be rewarding. This belief is because I learned to stand on one important truth: No matter what anyone else constitutes as a good or bad teacher, our experiences and passion have brought us here to offer something of substance to our students, and those students who accept the offering are the reason we stay. Not only do they remind us that we are enough and have something substantial to offer, but they invite us to have a role in the person they will be, and that is more than enough. That is exquisite.

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