Those of you out there who are teachers, or have been teachers know that our job requires so much more than grading papers and standing up in front of 150 or so kids spouting facts and figures. Teaching requires not only knowledge and wit (you know, the kind of wit where you can make a decision or answer a question at a moments notice, or make up an answer that sounds believable), but it also requires your heart and soul. Actually, although some people might not agree with me, I believe that middle school teachers are in need of much more heart and soul than actual knowledge (and maybe a little “coo coo ness” in the head if you know what I mean) because of all the “turmoil” that the early teenage brain and body are going through at that time. If we don’t give them our heart, then we come out empty. They don’t learn, and we fail at our jobs. But, as you can imagine, that… is… hard.
This week has been one of heartache for me. As a social studies teacher I deal with many issues that are controversial and difficult, yet I love the topics and have never been one to shy away from them. I find that when my wonderful students are energized with a topic, no matter what side they are on, they thrive, and give their hearts and souls to the topic at hand. I love this part of my teaching and it really is one of the main reasons I became a social studies teacher. I find so much joy in their energy for one thing or another.
So one of the topics I have talked about this past week was one ripe with controversy. And, being that there was a limited amount of time, and honestly my planning kinda sucked, I started a discussion that ended up with harsh emails from parents, and a night of crying for me.
I did everything I could to rectify the situation by emailing, then calling the families, and finally feeling like I may have messed up the rest of my school year. I love my subject, and I love it because I get to talk about these issues that “get your goat”. I am typically the type of teacher who does her best to make sure the kids never know who I am voting for during an election year (although if you go into my classroom and check out the posters you would be “dumb” not to put 2 and 2 together). Anyway, I am horrified that I am one of “those teachers” now. I want to be open-minded and loving of kids that have any and every viewpoint. That is so important to me.
So today, after all this ickyness died down, I pulled out my Ganesha and Buddha (see picture above) to help guide me towards an obstacle-free life and path towards true enlightenment. (Slight snicker here). But really, I need to remember how these obstacles should be celebrated since I have parents and kids who truly care about their education, as well as knowing that my path towards enlightenment comes only with taking what the world gives me and then letting it go.
I guess I have a long way ahead of me, but I should be thankful for every lesson that I am taught.
Even the hard ones.