It is my firm belief that no one becomes a teacher because they like children. And if they do, I doubt they teach for very long. People who like children become babysitters, dance instructors, pediatricians, or many of the other worthy professions that allow individuals to interact with children in important, impactful, and positive ways.
Teaching children is quite different. It requires one to be demanding. Exacting. Disciplined. Being a teacher requires you to do what’s best for a student, even when they yell, fight, and fail. It requires you to stand firm when a room full of adolescents tries to push you over physically, mentally, and emotionally. In my years in the classroom, I have been shoved, thrown at, made fun of, cursed at, and threatened. There are days I leave the school and I, quite literally, hate my students because of the way they make me feel. This is no work environment for someone who “likes” children.
To be a teacher requires much more than a simple emotional connection or satisfaction in working with children. It requires a belief and a dedication to an ideal. I guarantee there’s no teacher who goes home every night liking children, let alone the ones who populate his or her classroom. There’s no teacher who goes home every night wanting to come back to work the next morning. Yet, 99% of the time, we find a way to come back. What keeps us coming back is much more profound than a mere feeling; it is a deep-seeded belief that, no matter how much they abuse you, these children deserve to learn. Teachers choose education. There are plenty of more positive ways of working with children, but teachers choose to be in the classroom. It’s not a choice made once. It’s a choice we make when we apply to graduate school. It’s a choice we make when we apply for student teaching. It’s a choice we make when we apply for a job. It’s a choice we make every single weekday morning, no matter how angry, frustrated, depressed, or abused we felt the day before.
This isn’t to say that I don’t like children, or that teachers don’t like children. As you’ll see in upcoming posts, I love my students. I enjoy their fresh outlook and, sometimes, surprisingly keen observations. I learn from them. I laugh at them. I seek to understand them and, through them, find a wealth of energy and a source of optimism. To be a teacher, though– especially in adverse circumstances– takes a lot more than simply liking children. It takes much, much more.
I’ll stop speaking in generalities. I became a teacher because I believe in the power of education. Idealistic and naïve as I may be,I believe that when people are educated (I mean, really educated) they lead more fulfilling lives. They make their own choices and direct their own paths. They think independently. They change the world.
The purpose of this blog to give you, the reader (whether a teacher, parent, student, or just an interested person) a look into the lives of teachers who populate NYC classrooms, to give insight into the incredible and hard work it takes to educate. I want to bring you the unadulterated challenges and delights we, as teachers, face each and every day.