Thursday, October 31, 2013

Just Wait....

 

I recently saw a post on Facebook called 'Joy, or Just Wait?' It talked about new parents constantly being barraged with, "Oh just wait until they are teenagers..." or, "Oh just wait until (fill in the blank with something negative about parenting)...". In a round about way this made me think about my teaching career. (For the full article click here.)

Parenting can be challenging and so can teaching. There is a lot of negativity that surrounds both. The summer before I started teaching I was working hard to get prepared. Third grade was completely new to me and I didn't know where to start. Having student-taught in fifth grade, I was worried to "step down" to third. But my job was at a school I had previously worked at and I felt it would all be okay.

The school where I worked was a Title 1 school. For those of you that don't know what that is, a Title 1 school has at least 50% of the student body on free or reduced lunch. We had 2 (that has since turned into three) different apartment complexes in our boundaries which means we also had a lot of students transitioning in and out of our classrooms. I had worked as an After-school Program Coordinator for three years at this school and had a little background on the population, school procedures, and teaching (oh my naiveté!).

During the summer about a month before school started, I received my first "Just wait..." phone call. Apparently the group I was going to get was "the hardest group we've had in my twenty years here!" This teacher, who I know had only good intentions, warned me to find another school to teach at because my kids were "rough." While I appreciated her concern (truly I did), this made me want to stay even more. I sorta have this stubborn streak that won't let me quit something once I'm committed.

This was the first of many warnings I received about my first group of kiddos. I heard many more "Just waits" while I was preparing that summer. Surrounded by negativity I tried not to get discouraged. Teaching is hard. We have a lot of hoops to jump through.  We have parents who can't help, parents who won't help, and parents who can't help but help anyway. We have conferences, faculty meetings, professional development, and trainings. We have papers to grade, lesson plans to write, and data to track! And let's all face it, our hardest kids are NEVER absent!

But teaching is also wonderful. For every negative thing we have to face, there is undoubtedly more positives. We have hugs to give, smiles to share, and high fives in the hall. We have accomplishments to celebrate and the joy of seeing that spark in their eyes when they learn something new! We buy our kiddos backpacks, shoes, socks, pencils, paper, crayons, glue and more because they need it so desperately. We slip granola bars into the hands of our homeless kids who haven't eaten since lunch at school yesterday. We wipe the tears away from the student whose mom overdosed on drugs over the weekend. We do all of this and more. We do it because we care. We do it because we love what we do. And we do it above all because they are worth it.


So despite all of the negativity surrounding education that we face on a daily basis, I wanted to share with you a few of the "just waits" that I have discovered since that first phone call a few summers ago.

- Just wait until your class comes in on that very first day of school and you realize they are all just as nervous as you are!

- Just wait until a student starts throwing things around the room and you realize you know exactly how to handle the situation and everything worked out great!

-Just wait until you see a student who has struggled to learn something finally "get it" because of you. Those are the moments that give you goose bumps!

-Just wait until you get your students as excited about learning as you are. Enthusiasm for learning is easy to share!

-Just wait until your student makes a connection from a story they read in social studies to a story they are reading during guided reading.

-Just wait until you get a hug from the same student every day as they tell you, "Mrs. Tabrizi, you're my favorite teacher!" (And even though they say it every year, to every teacher, they still mean it!)

-Just wait until the students who you struggled with on a daily basis come back to visit you when they are in junior high and high school. They'll give you a wry smile that speaks volumes when they enter your door!

And finally,

-Just wait for the moment when you feel bogged down by everything you have to do, overworked and underpaid, and just plain tired. These moments will come. But they won't last. Remember this: You are a better teacher than you could ever imagine. Your students are in your room because they need YOU. You are making a profound difference in each of their lives in ways you can't see yet. When you start to feel this way, pull out a pen and paper and begin making your own "Just Wait" list. I promise it will fill up faster than you think!

6 comments:

  1. This brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for sharing your positive outlook! I am inspired to begin my own just wait list :)
    -Monique
    More Than Math by Mo

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    1. Thank you so much. That means a lot to me that you read it and it meant something to you! I really appreciate your comments!

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  2. I too, teach Title 1. Until you have "lived" through it, many don't understand it. I have seen more CPS workers than I can count. Have helped kids talk through death, drugs, gangs...and I teach grade 1! But I have met the MOST OUTSTANDING families! They work hard, play hard, & LOVE each other sooo much! Thanks for reminding me of WHY I do it! :) wendy 1stgradefireworks@gmail.com 1stgradefireworks

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    1. I agree! Teaching in Title 1 is a very unique experience! We have such strong families in our schools! Thanks for your comment!

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  3. I sure hope you see this comment because I want to THANK YOU for such a wonderful post. I retired in 2005 after 31 1/2 years of teaching and I miss it every single day. Yes, teaching is definitely hard and there are definitely things going on in education right now that I don't like or agree with (I try to keep up!) but the wonderful experiences I had as a teacher made up over and over again for any of the headaches or stresses that I endured. I wish all teachers would be cheerleaders for their schools, their students, and their peers....how much better teacher moral would be and how much better the kids would have it. I now work with college students, especially student teachers, and I always try to be very positive with them and encourage them to shut out any negativity they see or hear. I tell them that as long as they find the JOY in WHO they teach and WHAT they teach, the rest will take care of itself. Thanks for being a positive influence! (Oh, by the way....I always taught in Title I schools!)

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    1. Cheri-
      Thank you for taking the time to comment! I really appreciate your kind words! You are in such a unique position to help new teachers approach their jobs with an enthusiastic and positive attitude. There are many hard things in education but there are so many bright spots. Those bright spots keep us coming back to jump through the hoops and the red tape. I love that you tell them to find joy in who and what they teach. That is perfect advice! Thank you for reading my blog!!

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