Thursday, March 8, 2018

WHY or HOW do you do your job?

WHY or HOW do you do your job? 

I see the first as a question we ask ourselves and the second is a question others ask us. Especially these days with fear of our safety, demands and frustration growing in the classroom HOW do we do it everyday? WHY do we do it everyday?

WHY is a question I have been focused on as I reflect on who I am as an educator. WHY did I choose this career and WHY do I continue to move forward in it.
When I think of my WHY I could answer with all the right things like I want to make a difference, I love seeing curiosity form into amazing discoveries and a million other reasons, but although these are all true my real WHY has more to do with what I have experienced.


I was raised with kids and lots of them! My parents took in foster children my whole childhood. There were times I would wake up in the morning and run into the next bedroom to see if "new friends" had arrived in the middle of the night (which happened often). These children came from unimaginable places and had been through more in their short lives than anyone should have to endure in a lifetime. I came to understand and empathize with them. I also worried about them long after they left us. When they left us they often went back into the same awful situation they were pulled from. I knew that for a lot of them school would be there only safe place. It would be the place they knew they would get a meal, be warm and should be a place where they are loved and feel safe.

My WHY is also my brother who struggled with ADHD in a time when it was not accepted and worked with like it is now in schools. My WHY is my son who told me he felt like noone at school believed in him. My WHY is the kids who stop in every morning on the way to class that come to get a high five or sit and take a breath before starting the day. My WHY is a senior (who I had in a reading program 7 years ago) that brings me a coffee mug that reads "TEACHER, because Badass Miracle Worker is Not a Title".  My WHY is because I don't ever want a child to leave my room feeling like they don't matter and that they know there is always a safe place to stop whenever they need.

If you have ever seen the movie Girls Just Want to Have Fun with Sarah Jessica Parker (from the 80'S) there is a scene where she is a high school student introducing herself and she pauses and says "I love to dance" (which is what the movie is all about).  When I was a kid this was much more dramatic in my own head than it really is when I see it now, but that is what I think of everytime someone asks HOW I do my job everyday. I think as I do a dramatic pause "because I love to teach".

I think my love of what I do is apparent to most who know me especially my family. My 15 year old daughter has her first job and she told me the other day how lucky she was to have a job she loved....she works at a child care in an elementary school. Everyday I pick her up she talks nonstop about the kids and what happened that day. Even at 15 I can see her passion for kids and know she will make a difference in so many lives.

The HOW question I feel is a more difficult one to answer, because it is tough to put into words the feeling of seeing kids be curious, daring, innovative, successful and amazing. I know right now with school safety at the front of everyone's mind people are worried and so am I, but we can't live in fear. We have a job to do and it is more important now than ever. Kids are changing and the way we connect with them is changing. We need to change with the times or become irrelevant. So my HOW I do this job is I have found a tribe of people who remind me almost everyday how amazing and important our job is.

I was watching the news the other day and was completely overwhelmed by the students standing up for what they believe in in Florida. What they are doing is EXACTLY what I see as the powerful outcome of empowering kids. George Couros, Katie Martin, Dave Burgess, Jimmy Casas, A.J. Juliani and John Spencer are just a few of the people who I see as huge influences on where our education is going. Because of this I don't see WHY or HOW I could not love what I do!

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