As the sun set on my time as a classroom teacher, I did what all good teachers do: I paused to reflect on the experience. What went well? What didn’t go well? Where was there room for improvement?
My reasons for leaving the profession behind are many, and I’ll delve into that in a later blog post. But for now, I’d like to focus on teachers as I’m come to know them over the years.
When I was growing up, school was my safe haven. I grew up in the hood: lots of crime, lots or violence, lots of drugs. My parents were afraid to let us go outside and, well, the situation at home wasn’t great either. School was the one place where we felt secure, where we could explore, and we could stretch our academic muscle. Neither of my parents finished high school, but they knew an education would be our ticket out of the ghetto. My teachers were a source of encouragement, and occasionally gave me some tough love.
When I became a parent, I marveled at the teachers who worked with my kids. Their dedication to the students–their passion for helping young minds to blossom–inspired me to get my teaching credentials. I wanted to help students become excited about learning too.
Once I became a teacher, I found myself surrounded by caring and dedicated professionals. They shared the dedication that I had seen in my teachers and my kids’ teachers. My colleagues became my mentors and friends. We talked instructional strategies and classroom management, planned field trips and cross-curricular learning opportunities, and navigated our way through the many changes our profession has undergone in the last few years.
Dear teachers, thank you. Thank you for your dedication to your work. Thank you for all the sacrifices you make for the good of your students. Thank you for doing more with less, for putting up with the mountains of paperwork, and answering all those darn emails (even when you don’t want to). And thank you for taking care of our most valued treasures: our children.
“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” -John Dewey