I keep seeing the articles and posts stemming from the “What I Wish My Teacher Knew” movement, the latest one being an article where someone asked adults what they wished their teachers had known and how that possibly could have changed their lives. I am filled up by it. I get it, there are so many things that we wish others knew about us that may make our lives easier but here’s what seems to be missing from the stories; we teachers know a lot. And we carry that knowledge with us every single day. We carry the hearts and the dreams for all of our students, and sometimes that load gets really heavy, and yet we soldier on because that is our job. That is what we signed up for.
What we teachers know is that we can only control what happens within our walls. That as much as we wish we could adopt a child, feed a family, find a job, or even teach every single child every single thing they need, that the moment a child leaves our schools we lose much of our power. That the time we have is measured in school days not life times. Yet that doesn’t stop us from trying. I know teachers whose homes have become refuges for students misplaced by their lives, I know teachers who have a cabinet full of food in their classroom, so that no child will go hungry. I know teachers that stay up every night trying to figure out how to reach every single kid, how to create a positive learning and life experience for every student, ignoring the sleep they need until they feel they at least have an idea. A new thing that may just be the one thing that makes all of the difference.
Because what we teachers know is that every single second of our day matters. That every time a child speaks we should give them our full attention. We know that our students deserve nothing but the very best every single day, no matter what is happening in our own lives. We know that every child has their own unique struggles and we wish we could help fix every single one of them. And so we try, and we give everything we have, and we try to lighten the burden for the students, and even though we get so tired, so overwhelmed at time by the injustice of some children’s lives, we go back to school every single day so that at least they can see we care.
So before more people assume that teachers don’t know a lot, think of the good teachers you know. Think of everything that goes into their day, how they speak of their students, how they care for each child they teach. Think of that teacher that made a difference for you because they did know. Don’t forget that a teacher is only one person; human and with only so much power. We are the ones that beat ourselves up when we haven’t reached a child, helped them the way they needed, or somehow failed them. We try, we know, and we wish we could do more. Trust me.
I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark, who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press. Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.