I am nearing the end of a very important semester in the process of being a secondary English teacher. Becoming a teacher has inherent challenges, roadblocks, and requirements, all of which the outside world is rather unaware. This can’t be left to the fault of any; there is not one single person or cause to blame for this ignorance – only the fact that the lines of communication are seldom open in an unbiased way that is not politically charged. It is unfortunate that interactions between educators and the communities that they work in tend only to happen when one side is angry with the other.
With broken lines of communication in mind, I’d like to take an opportunity to send some neutral notes out into the community. I’d like to give some musings from a pre-service teacher mindset that may aid in keeping those lines open in the future.
It seems only logical to begin with the most important thought of all: let us all remember what we’re in this for: the kids. The future. Above all else, without question, students are the reason that schools exist. Students are the reason that I am becoming a teacher. It’s not the fantastic benefits of a career in education, it’s not the summer vacations, and it’s certainly not because I always dreamed of spending my nights grading papers. It’s the kids; the lively, creative, ridiculous, brilliant beings that I will have the opportunity to help influence and hope to send on the right track in the future.
Call me crazy, but they are the reason I am becoming a teacher and I have countless peers and colleagues who feel exactly the same. We want little more than to aid in helping these people reach their full potential. We want to inspire our students to become conscious, critical-thinking, prosperous citizens of the world.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but is this not also what parents and community members want? Do they not want to see children grow into adults that make a difference, if not only for themselves, for the world? If, by some strange coincidence that is the case, the statement could be made that we all have a common goal. We all really just want to see the kids become the best versions of themselves that they can be. The next time a conflict between teachers and the community is afoot, let’s all try to keep this in mind; though our thoughts and methods may be different, though we do not always see eye to eye, we all want the same thing. Let us always remember the kids.
Once we’ve established the principle that we do what we do for the children, the issue arises that there are many different ways to get there. Perhaps one of the most sensitive subjects in education is that there is no one right way of doing things. No matter what, there will always be people who are concerned with the way that I do my job. At the risk of being condescending, I do feel the need to declare that, even without my teaching license, I’ve spent hundreds of hours learning to do this job.
I’ve been interacting with students under the supervision of and in cooperation with veteran teachers, and as a student in the classroom, I’ve been learning about lesson plans, and effective classroom activities, and millions of tiny details that go into creating the best and most effective classes that I can. This is not to say that nobody is qualified to evaluate me, only that I feel confident in knowing that I can do my job well. It also means that, after years of reflection and criticism, I am entirely capable of taking well-meaning, helpful criticism. I am ready and willing to have conversations that will allow me to become a better teacher. What this all amounts to is that I want to be the best I can be, and I welcome interaction that will help me do so. Though it is discouraging to be evaluated constantly by the untrained eye, teachers who do truly want to improve will take it because they know that everyone has their own unique perspective to see what we may be missing, and even the most practice can never make us perfect.
Someday, I will be ecstatic to become a teacher and start spending all of my days with some of the coolest humans on the planet. I will take on the job with happiness and great pride. All that I hope for, beyond being able to provide my students with the best and most effect opportunities that I can, is that I can openly communicate with my community as I do so.