I already know you finished the sentence so no need to act like you didn’t. But yeah. What in all the actual? The other day I ran across a quote on Twitter that proudly proclaimed, “A good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others.” After I gave whoever typed up this foolishness the side-eye for that comma usage (I’m an English teacher so, yeah, all punctuation matters. Seriously. Can I get a semi-colon or period up in there please?), I frowned at the entire premise. Why? Because the quote is a lie and the truth ain’t in it. Yes folks. We’ve been lied to. Being a good teacher does not require us to cannibalize ourselves so others don’t starve, and yet, we are expected to offer up our limbs every day to make sure our students go home full. And guess what? Many of us meet and exceed that expectation, giving until it hurts, week after week, month after month, year after year until we look around and realize we have no more F’s to give; no more focus, no more feelings, and no more finances (What? What’d you think I meant?) The profession we loved, the one that seduced us with the lure of changing the lives of children so we could change the world, betrayed us. We knew the work would be hard. What we didn’t know was that we were going to one day say student loans be damned I’m out. Okay. Maybe you aren’t there or maybe you’re way past there, either way if you’re reading this, chances are, you understand EXACTLY what I’m talking about (Fist bumps and head nods all around).
Let’s face it, most teachers still love teaching and don’t really want to quit but when you ask Siri to help you locate your educational mojo and even she can’t find it you realize the issue is far bigger than you and you might have to call Iyanla to fix your life. Or not. (Seriously. Don’t.)
What you are looking for, what WE are looking for, can’t be found outside of ourselves. Glenda in The Wizard of Oz, The Wiz Remake, and The Wiz Original (Lena Horne was slayin’ folks before slayin’ was a thing) all told Dorothy that, in her quest to get home, what she needed was with her all the time. And what we need is with us too. While it is tempting to blame our current lack of enthusiasm and zeal for education on all of the factors that press on us everyday and while we might want Luuvie Ajayi to write “I’m Judging You: The Teacher Edition” (or maybe that’s just me) our frustration, anger, exhaustion, discouragement can all be helped by remembering who we are *Cue scene from The Lion King and pass out tissue. In fact, watch by clicking the link.*
Remember why you decided to answer the call to teach. Remember that one student who everyone else had given up on who turned out okay. Remember that day you weren’t at work and realized how much you missed being there because, the kids. Remember the day you got observed by your administrators and EVERYTHING went right. Remember that one lesson you created that was so good you high-fived yourself. Remember the joy you felt when you’ve had the crappiest day in the history of all crappy days and a student stops by your room to give you a smile or say she enjoyed your class. Remember your favorite teacher and strive to be that person. Remember you are human and, contrary to popular opinion, you are not a super hero and there is no S on your chest. Remember to take care of yourself. Remember to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. Remember to listen to the giant floating lion in the sky and go kick Scar’s butt.
*Follow my blog by joining below and stay tuned for next week’s edition, “When Good Careers Go Bad: Getting Your Mojo Out of Reform School.”