Here are some things no one told me in my methods courses, also known as teacher-school.
They don’t tell you about the day when you find out that what you thought was a smoothly running classroom is really a hive of worker bees with a few but powerful and restless, cussing, scheming nine-year olds.
Or that there will be a day when your breath is taken away by the meanness that a child harbors inside. You will wonder where she gets it. What has happened to her to create such a need to reach back out and sting? How can you possibly begin to sooth some of that hurt and at the same time protect others from her jabs?
They don’t tell you that there will be a day when you realize that your best efforts are not enough. Period. That what you thought was really working was not. That all your class discussions and book talks about kindness, and being true to yourself, and what is appropriate… all – not sticking. All overpowered by social media and a culture where children are completely steeped in sexual images and messages that they can’t help but react to.
They don’t tell you that you will give, and give, and give, and it will not ever be enough. That you will leave at the end of a long day so bone-tired and weary that you are not sure you can make it to your car. And you will go home, and sit down, and your people will want to talk and play and move on with the early evening and all you will want to do is cry.
And they don’t tell you about the day you say good bye to a student who you have watched grow into the lover of books you had hoped for. Who has emerged as a confident and joyful learner, in spite of the fact that life has handed him a load of despair and unfairness that no living being deserves. And who leaves within ten minutes. Social services at their best, don’t you know. No time to say goodbye. A quick grab off my shelf of the read-aloud he loved, tucked into his hands, “Always remember how strong you are, and how even when you don’t think you can, you can.”
They don’t tell you your heart will break in a hundred different ways.
Good thing. Who would teach?
I know there is a flip side to every heartache above. There is light in every dark corner and dead end. That every human endeavor is a series of moves through tunnels and pinnacles, twists and turns and questions that have no answers. If you never walked through the valley, how would you recognize the mountaintop? The joy would be less intense, less sweet.
I know that this pain and this hurt is what some teachers avoid by never really engaging in the first place. I know this. Luckily, they didn’t tell me how to do that either.
Thank you Ruth, for this place to share our celebrations and our heartaches too. You can read many more here.