Being a teacher is a lifestyle. One may even compare it to being married. You think about it all of the time. Any podcast, movie, article, book, song, or life moment can be considered fair game in what could be deemed a learning opportunity for students to learn and grow. Just as a marriage, it takes reflection, love, passion, and hard work when you least expect it. Graciously, I have been happily married to my teaching career since 2007, which is not too shabby, I suppose. In teaching, like in life, even when things have knocked me down, the challenges always lured me back. The kids, the ah-ha connections, and the hope for influencing a better future keeps me coming back for more day after day, year after year.
For those of you still getting to know me, I can let you know I am a closeted introvert. It takes a lot for me to be “on” in front of other people. A few weeks ago, in one of our classes, we took surveys to see if we were more introverted or extroverted. The middle schoolers could not believe I was more introverted, when I seem more extroverted around them. I get recharged with them, getting to know each and every one of them and hearing their stories. Learning their interests and having conversations that evolve as the year goes on. I honestly cannot imagine being around adults eight hours every day, but I truly enjoy the companionship of our students at The Cooper School. They make me laugh, cry, and I feel hopeful and proud.
The energy in a vibrant, normalized, and productive classroom is a teacher’s nirvana. To hear the melodious hum of students discussing their thoughts about paradigm shifts needed in our society or reflections analyzing scientific observations is a beautiful sound. Some moments of connection and growth are obvious, and can bring tears to my eyes. Watching students present projects they have worked on diligently has been known to make me dance for joy while beaming with a grin. However, the subtle moments when students have small group discussions about mature topics that will inspire change or one-on-one conversations on the playground about topics from class are moments that remind me how much I love being a teacher.
I was moved a few weeks ago watching adolescents reciting Martin Luther King on the news show CNN10. Since my advisory saw me crying, I stepped on my soapbox and told them how they truly have the power to make change. Whether they are standing up for the environment, racial equality, gender equality, or other righteousness matters, they can make a difference. I truly believe they will. Educating the future generations is my part. I feel we all have a niche, and I have thankfully found mine. Learning and teaching about social injustices and environmental crises needing to be acknowledged and addressed makes me responsible for guiding the future to make educated choices to influence change. Their determination and hope brings even more determination and hope to my life. Things will only get better. I feel confident saying that, in having the opportunity to be viewing the future through the lens of a middle school student.
I truly have faith that my students will make a difference. I love seeing them learn and grow. I cannot imagine my life without them.