I have been feeling broken these past few days with everything that has been going on, and this morning I woke up with an urge to get my feelings out and to be heard. Over the past three days I have had many discussions with colleagues, parents, friends, and families. I have been struggling with the sense of disconnect with what is happening to the public education system, a system for which I have been proud to be a part of. Over the past three days two things happened that made me realize what it is I am hoping for our students.
The first happened on Wednesday. I was walking in front of my school, with my colleagues, when we were approached by a fellow teacher who now works for the BCTF. She was gathering information about the strike and wanted to hear from us, the teachers. She asked me a simple question, “Why are you here, today?” A million reasons ran through my head, but she encouraged me to just speak from my heart.
I am holding a sign and walking with my colleagues because I am very worried about the classroom environment. I am a teacher, like many others, who strongly believe that school is about community and relationships. School is built on relationships with parents, teachers, support staff, and the most important our students. I go home every day thinking of the students I did not get to chat with during the day, and I am left wondering how their day went, what struggles did they have,what successes did they have, how their dance competition went, what was the score of last nights soccer game etc…
The second thing that happened yesterday, with “my kids” during our weekly circle. I asked them what it is that they need to be the best of who they are. We discussed the difference between needs and wants, and the kids filled the board with things from shelter, love, support, food, sports, the need to have feeling of love towards something, and many more. Next I asked them what do they feel when those needs are not met, what are their feelings when they are not getting what they need. Again, the students filled the board with amazing thoughts; sad, depressed, tired, anxious, frustrated. Some feelings were said more often than any other; they feel lonely and unheard, invisible, and someone without a voice.
I sat in awe of my students as they discussed how they feel when their needs are not met. I could not stop thinking of all the times I just could not get to the students to simply ask them about their day, their weekend, or just how are you today. I have always made it my goal to reach every child in my class at least two times a day, not including the teaching time, just two times to connect with the students, to hear them, to understand and know what their lives are all about. I believe if I know my students, if I get my students, if I know what makes them tick, I will be able to create lessons that engage them, encourage them, and ignite them.
One of the biggest reasons I became a teacher is because I had teachers that connected with me. I was lucky enough to have teachers that made me feel like I can do anything I set my mind to, that made me feel heard. Thank you to Mr. Carson, Mr. Hogan, Mr. Wilkenson, Ms. Davies, Mr. Berry, and so many more for making me the teacher I am today. Thank you for making me see what it is to be a teacher, and thank you for reminding me why I am out standing with my fellow colleagues.
The biggest reason why I became a teacher is the kids. My hope is to encourage students to want to learn, to ignite their learning passion, to understand themselves as learners. Listening to the students discuss their thoughts and feelings encourages me to stand up for what I believe in. I look at each of my students and I see them, I understand them, and I hear them. I only hope that I can continue to make those connections, build those relationships, and hear each student.