There is a phenomenon called the teacher job satisfaction curve. Teaching is a profession for idealists. Teachers want to believe that we touch the future by teaching children. We are life-long learners who constantly hone our craft in an effort to engage our students in learning in the hopes of creating a spark that will make them want to learn more! We start out every school year excited to get into that classroom and make a difference in children’s lives. We envision students who will arrive in our room ready to learn, students who have loads of untapped potential, who are just waiting for us to inspire them!
Yep,…reality…not so much …sometime right before Christmas break you start counting the days before retirement. The enormity of the task you have taken on becomes crushingly obvious. There are so many variables you are unable to control. Not all students are ready to learn or even want to learn. If I heard, “but, we’re Seniors!” one more time, I seriously thought my head would explode! However, the disillusionment we all feel in December begins to fade and you start to feel hopeful once again. After all, there is always next year and so, I begin to reflect on the current year and how I will make changes and hone my skills to inspire students next year, … for sure!
During this period of reflection (at my desk at the end of 4th period), I had a particularly puzzling student approach me with a friend to ask my advice. Without giving away too much, I doubt she will ever see this, but still, there were things happening in her life that would have made it difficult for anyone to concentrate on “The Importance of Being Ernest” or “The Canterbury Tales“. I hope my advice did help because often I feel helpless to affect change in their lives, but her asking me reaffirmed that even when we don’t think we are making a difference…sometimes, we are.
Thinking of what this girl projected on the surface made me think of icebergs. And, I was reminded once again to look at my students a little deeper. That behavior that drives me insane may have very deep roots and the anger or apathy they display may have nothing to do with my request that they pay attention or stop talking and everything to do with how they are trying to deal with what is happening inside themselves.