It’s so easy to get depressed as a teacher if you let yourself. There’s always those few students who you want to help almost more deeply than you actually want to teach anything to anyone else. Anyone who has been in the education business will know what I mean: a difficult student (or students) who you can see has spark of talent and greatness, but have spent their entire lives being shunted between broken home halves, or told they’re stupid by the unthinking cruelty of childrens’ cliques, or somehow gotten the idea from a few low test scores that their entire life means failure. They may even hate you (or at least say they do). They might want nothing to do with no.
Too many of those can add up fast. All it takes is one really bad day where a lesson bombs, and you can’t quite reach those children you are desparately trying to reach, and all of a sudden you think to yourself “Nothing I do matters”, and then you’re there in that black pit of ‘Why did I pick this?’ and ‘How can I ever possibly help these children?’
I say this not because I’m currently undergoing any such existential crisis, but because I’ve seen people I deeply respect as teachers go through them. Even that teacher that you thought everyone new was the greatest advocate and ally you’d ever have in your teenage developmental years has those moments, and I think it’s absolutely critical that we don’t let them have them for long. We won’t get rid of them, but every time something like that happens without intervention, the chances of them leaving the field get a little higher. Our children cannot afford to lose all of these amazing people who are dedicated to doing such a tough job day in and day out.
Sadly, I can’t remember the name of every teacher I’ve ever had. Over the process of writing this entry I wish that I had been able to. Our society is so focused on ‘improving things’, be it health care, GNP, or education, that we often let ourselves ignore the great positives in life in favour of trying to fix the negatives.
So, to all of my teachers past and present who have helped inspire me to be a teacher today, thank you!
And to those who decided to pursue another career path because of something else you learned, thank you as well! Deciding to go for it and not obeying the silly cliché of ‘Those who can’t, teach’ both ensured that you were happy and that the teachers who helped you along that way have made a difference in a wide variety of lives. And to the parents who entrust us with the cultivation of their childrens’ knowledge, skills, and well-being, thank you as well!
Go hug a teacher!