A few weeks ago, my friend Beth Shaum asked if I would share why I stay in the classroom, despite the current teaching climate and teachers leaving in droves. I kept thinking about it and drafting a response, but eventually the email fell into the abyss of my inbox and I was swept up in taking care of my husband, who was having surgery at the same time. I never did get my response to her. But that’s ok.
Beth didn’t need my response, because she received so many beautiful photos and reasons. She shared her final video this weekend and it’s something that every American needs see. Teachers, from all over the country, teaching everything from elementary school to high school, share deep and heartfelt reasons for remaining in a profession that’s slowly becoming one of the most negative careers one can choose.
Over the weekend, I shared why I became a teacher, despite being told I was wasting my potential by doing so.
But today I want to share why I stay.
Despite the vitriol.
Despite the standardized tests.
Despite the unions.
Despite the budget cuts.
Despite the mandates.
Despite the disrespect.
Despite the other options.
I stay because what I do matters and it makes a difference.
I work hard to ignite a passion for reading in my students. I introduce them to tools they can use after my class to continue reading and finding books. Sometimes, years later, they contact me to talk about books. They are engaged. That’s why I stay.
I try to make writing fun and authentic. Blogging, poetry, challenges– anything that provides an audience beyond me. And now I have a classroom full of bloggers, some of whom are reaching out to other bloggers. They are writers. That’s why I stay.
I create readers. I create writers. And there is no job in the world that can make me happier. I owe my students a thanks for being so awesome. They are wonderful people and citizens. That’s why I stay.
I travel and share information about my students with children in other places. And I bring back ideas and information for my students, who then make connections between their lives and the lives others are leading across the globe. Those connections will make them better global citizens. That’s why I stay.
I am a reader, a writer, and a citizen scientist. I want to share my love of nature and science with my students and show them that anyone can participate in science, even if they don’t choose science as a career. That’s why I stay.
I am a life-long learner. I love getting students excited about learning because I am excited about learning. And when they leap out of their seats or squee in excitement I can’t help but get excited, too. That’s why stay.
The world is a big place and not everyone is as blessed as my students. Everyone needs to reach out a hand to help those around them. As a teacher, I can bring those opportunities to my students and help them become compassionate leaders. That’s why I stay.
A book can change a child’s life. With a classroom library and the wide range of books I am always reading, I can help students find that special book. That’s why I stay.
Not because of the tests. Or the mandates. Or the races to the top. Or the children not left behind. Not because of the curriculum. Or the meetings. Or the time spent at home preparing lessons and grading papers.
“In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” Baba Dioum
That’s why I stay.
Because of the books. Because of the writing. Because of the changes I see my students leading the world towards.
Because I believe in my students.
Teaching isn’t perfect. It isn’t fun everyday and sometimes you just want to give up. But in the words of the Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”. I decided a long time ago to be that someone.