As a teacher, there are hard, challenging days in which I wonder whether I am making any difference at all. There are those kind of days.
I have had many people tell me over the years that they could never do this job. Could never be a teacher. Could never do my job. I have had people tell me that they don't have the kind of patience it takes. Don't have the nerves for it. They say that it is too demanding in terms of the behaviors and complicated issues children present. Too hard on the head. Too taxing on the stress levels. (Never mind the additional stressful academic responsibilities that come with the job).
Honestly, it isn't the easiest profession to be in, although I know every profession has it's ups and downs. Even though I know that all professions have their strengths and weaknesses.
True, teaching isn't the easiest calling to be drawn to. And it hasn't been the smoothest sailing I've ever known. There are many challenging days, many hurdles to jump. Many deep waters to traverse. There are many moments when I wonder myself if I am doing the right thing. Following the right path. That all because: it is hard being there for people, day in and day out. Hard staying the course when the ride gets bumpy. Hard work, plain and simple. And truth be told, the ride we embark on is very treacherous, full of pitfalls. And all because there are so many variables. So many children with so many stories. For in our classrooms, there are children who have seen things I might never know about in my lifetime. Who have heard things I might never hear. Watched things transpire that I can only envision in my worst nightmares. There are children in my classroom who have lived lives in their short years that I will never live, though I age to live a full life.
It isn't easy being a kid at the best of times. Try being one at the worst of times.
There are days when these same children come into the classroom and they just your push buttons. They try your patience and test your resolve. They act out, cry, push, scream, whine, slap, punch and spit. They holler and run. They pull things off the walls and shove things on the floor. There are days when you just want to give up and walk out the door.
There are certainly days when you wonder why you ever thought teaching was a good idea in the first place.
But sometimes, there are different days. Days when everything comes together. When the pieces of the puzzle just FIT. When there is clarity and everything murky is finally made clear. Days when something happens and a door is opened: a view is granted into the inner sanctum of a child's private life. And you see for the very first time why it is that this child is angry, this child is hurting. Why it is this child is wounded, frustrated, broken and scared. And all of the moments that happened before- when you thought seriously about pulling out your hair and giving up- packing your bags: those moments are all but forgotten. All but a memory.
Because you've been given a privileged look at a child and seen them for who they truly are -- maybe for the very first time.
Seen that their anger is just a disguise for pain.
Seen that their screaming hollers are sometimes a cry for help.
Seen that the physical aggression they exhibit is sometimes a response to what they know as familiar.
Seen that their hurtful words are just the everyday vernacular of their private world.
And in those moments of clarity, you realize: I am a safe haven. I am a lighthouse for him -- a beacon of hope for her. I am a soft landing for this child. And I am such so that when they come to school, when they come to my classroom -- they know they are loved. Know that they are protected, accepted, wanted, appreciated, valued, enjoyed, liked and seen and cared for. They know they don't have to be afraid. Know they don't have to fear.
Because here...in this room, in this place, they are safe.
This is all I could ever really hope for as a teacher -- to be a safe haven and a soft landing for my students to fall on. Everything else is secondary. I strive to be a person my students know will be there for them, each day and every day, through all the moments, both shining and otherwise. There to be a caring, loving presence in their lives. Unwavering through the storms.
As a teacher, it's all I really want to be.