assumptions, being me, Decisions, life choices, students

We Should All Be Surprised

image from icanread

A teacher contacts me at the beginning of the year at their wits end; they have this one student, you know the one, the one that doesn’t listen, the one with the rap sheet miles long even though they are just in 5th grade.  That student that smiles and laughs and then turns deadly the moment you turn your back.  yeah that one is now in their room and this teacher tries everything.  Throughout the year we share tips and ideas, what if’s and have you tried’s.  Sometimes there are small victories but most often the honeymoon is over before it began.  At the end of the year the teacher is exhausted and the student is about the same except maybe taller, faster, and even more hellbent on saying no and getting their way.

Over the summer I hear once more from the teacher, this time telling me that the student had been in trouble with police.  Something minor but still a gateway to worse, a gateway to things we so diligently try to shield our kids from.  What comes next floors me; “I’m not surprised, just thought it would happen later, that’s all…”  The words form a rope around my neck and I feel myself at a loss for words.  I don’t know how to answer that, not then, but now I do.  You should be surprised!  You should be shocked that any kid decides to go down that path.  We should never lose our surprise when students, kids, make bad decisions.  I don’t care what path they were on in our classrooms.  I don’t care how destructive they may have come off as.  We should be surprised when they make terrible decisions and not just say, “See, I knew it would happen…”

I know this may be idealistic and perhaps I have one foot in utopia, but yet, we have to be surprised when our students fail our expectations.  We have to be surprised when they wander into dangerous territory and make poor decisions.  Be surprised when all of our hard work, all of our efforts, don’t seem to make a difference.  Someone has to keep believing in these kids, even the ones we think are lost.  Even the ones that give us the hardest time, sometimes, because after all, they are the ones that need it the most.  So stay surprised and keep believing.

being a teacher, Decisions

Do Teachers Have the Right to Privacy?

I owe this post to the excellent comment left by Jennifer Diaz on my So You Want a Teacher Job.  Thank you for bringing this up!

With an onslaught of teachers seemingly caught bashing their students on Facebook or being reprimanded by their school boards for sharing pictures of themselves drinking, I am starting to wonder whether we as teachers have the right to privacy?  Now don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should be careful what they post publicly and bashing your students is just idiotic.  But what about the more innocent pictures of you holding a drink?  How about you actually drinking at a public venue?  Or riding a motorcycle with no helmet (even if it is not breaking the law)?  Or smoking, swearing or wearing lowcut clothing?  Do teachers have a right to do this in public or is that considered morally corrupt as well?

I agree that as a teacher, we are instant role models for all children and that we must behave, dress and act accordingly.  However, what about in our free time?  Are we still expected to follow the same code of conduct outside of school walls as we do within?  Should we as teachers live the life of a seemingly flawless adult and do anything that could be viewed as “bad” by children only within our own houses?And don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about anything crazy here.  Just the act of having a beer at a bar or heaven forbid actually getting drunk.  What about pictures of you showing off you new tattoo?  Is that considered morally reprehensible?

As new teachers get ready to interview and ask for advice, I always tell them to check their privacy setting on Facebook and to Google themselves to make sure they like what they find.  View it through the lens of an employer and make sure their path is clean.  However, is it right for society to place teachers on a moral pedestal that no other professions, not even politicians, have to attain?  I don’t have the answer but I would love to start the discussion.  Are we as teacher allowed to have “a life” outside of school doing normal adult stuff that in any other profession no one would even think twice about?  Are we indeed allowed to have a private life?

being a teacher, common sense, Decisions, promises

I Am Committed

We all struggle with decisions, every day, every minute. Some decisions become easier as we get more set in our ways, language we use, motions we go through, and yet some never lose their unfamiliarity, their newness, their rawness. As a teacher I cannot begin to count how many decisions I make in a day; language choice, assignments, what I bring into my room and what I take out. TO teach does not just mean to guide the learning, I am also there to make decisions.

So I wish for this for the coming week, month, and year; that whatever decisions I make, I make them fully. That once I commit myself to something, I commit the entire me. Not just a tentative part, but the whole thing. That once my thinking is through and outcomes have been weighed that I then trust myself. That I trust myself to know I made the right decision, that I trust myself enough to agree with my choice, and to perhaps even revel in it. Trust myself to fully commit. Give myself the gift of believing that I made the right decision, perhaps then I can give myself a break. Do you need to commit?