Man. If there is one thing in this world that I am grateful for, its deciding to become a teacher.
But, wait, let me back up.
First of all, I NEVER wanted to teach. I told my mom when I was in my teens that I would take any job in the world, as long as it wasn’t teaching. And look. at. me. now.
I also used to tell my mom that I hated children and that I never wanted any. Well the former has changed significantly (the latter is still true for now). And loooook. atttt. meee. nowww.
I will start by saying that my love for teaching almost nothing to do with the content that I teach. I chose to be an ELA teacher because I do like to write and I have a book everywhere I go (literally, ask my mother). However, by being an ELA teacher, I get to use literature of any kind to go on a tangent and teach my students life lessons. I allow them to ask me all sorts of questions and make all sorts of inferences because, after all, ELA class is driven by student bases discussions in order to drive and aid comprehension. Its beautiful. For example:
My class was reading a novel called Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, in which a Chinese girl goes on all sorts of adventures, tests herself, meets new people, and ultimately puts her faith in the hope that she has that this fairytale is actually true and will bring fortune to her family. The strong belief and will that she has drives her to Never Ending Mountain where she meets the Old Man in the Moon and he changes her poor fait into a more prosperous one. Disclaimer, I hated the book. I still hate the book. I also let the kids know I hated the book. But, while reading it, we had discussions about hope and faith, passions and belief, longing for a better future and finding ways to obtain it, making people proud while testing personal boundaries. Now that sounds more attainable to my brown Harlem Kiddos, now doesn’t it? Yeah, I thought so too.
But its through all types of literature that you can not only have these discussions, but teach students how to read with different lenses; how to apply things to themselves so that most everything can be transferable. You are literally building and molding permanent synapses in their brains.
Okay whoa, see. I got really carried away there. Im back.
Anyways, I love watching my babies ( Im like a mom, they will always be babies no matter how old they get) when they have “Ah ha” moments. I like when they say something under their breath randomly, and instead of being upset I have to laugh. I even love when they mess up and I get to use that a teachable moment for the future, and then watching them implement feedback. Oh, and my favorite, is when THEY give ME my own advice. One of my students, Ill call here Shay, is a perfect example of this:
I was leaving work real flustered, just last week. Shay asks “Well Ms. V, whats wrong with you? Did you have a bad day after you saw us?” I said “Yeah Shay, I’m sorry but I just wanna get out of here, we can talk tomorrow, okay?” She responds, with such finesse, “Ms. V, if your mad about one of the other teachers, then you need to do what you tell me. You said not to let other people get in your bubble and pop it, so…don’t let them pop your bubble.”
Dammit Shay. Do as I say, not as I do! Of course I didn’t say this. Instead, I hugged her, rebuild by bubble, and haven’t let anyone pop it since.
But above all, the most glorious [and scariest] thing about teaching, is the way these kids make me fall in love over and over again, day after day, year after year. Its not always the ones in my class, or even the ones you would “expect” me to be close to. But teaching has brought me as close as I want to be to parenthood. And to be honest, Im not mad about it. I worry about these kids. I want the absolute best for them. Some of them, I would take a couple blows for. And their parents know this, and appreciate it, which makes my job and loving their child that much easier.
Impacting lives is a powerful thing. It just so happens that with teaching, you know you’re making an impact. But even if you aren’t a teacher, you are making a difference to more people that you know, and there is no greater feeling than that (in my opinion).
Your presence has a ripple effect. Put those positive vibes out there in whatever it is that you are doing. And love yourself while you are doing it.
This is my story. This is my journey. This is our journey.