Confession 36: Why I Teach

I was sitting in the teacher’s lounge the other day, listening to teachers do what they do in the teacher’s lounge, vent (unless it’s an American Idol Day). One of the teachers made the comment that she didn’t know why she bothered putting so much into the process of teaching when the kids don’t seem to care. The other teachers groaned in empathy and agreed. I had to laugh though. I mean really, any good teacher knows that deep down (sometimes very deep down) we do it because we love the kids. The bueracracy of our educational system has tried to thwart that, with ridiculous curricular goals and too much emphasis placed on standardized tests, but real teachers know what matters most.

I was reminded of that last week in an encounter I had with one of my students. We’ve been reading Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, and in the middle of the author’s discourse on his relationship with his father, one of my boys walked out of the room. This is the second year I’ve had this student in class, and we have a pretty good relationship, so I just thought maybe he wasn’t feeling well. After a bit, another student asked if he could go check on the boy. I was surprised when the other student opened the classroom door and saw that the boy was not in the bathroom, but outside in the hall. I went out in the hall to see what was going on, and saw that my student was crying. I sat down next to him and asked what was going on. It was the book, the discussions of the volitale relationships between fathers and sons had struck home to him, as he and his father have a very difficult relationship. We talked for a few minutes and went back into class.

The point of all of this is that this is what teaching should be about. It’s about building relationships with students. It’s about being there for them, helping them grow, providing them a sounding board, encouraging them to think for themselves. We put the effort into our classes not so our students can be successful on a test, but so they can be successful in life. It’s a privilege to teach– I need to remember that come Monday morning!

Blessings and Peace,