I recently had a conversation with a colleague about the attitudes of teachers in our school. We decided that many of our close coworkers are, in one way or another, unhappy with teaching. There is an overall gloom over the school, and we couldn’t quite pinpoint the reason why. Our administrative team is strong, upbeat, and supportive. Our school building is (more or less) intact and comfortable. Our coworkers are just as zany as ever. What, then, is the matter with everyone?
An article I stumbled upon a few days ago may be able to provide some insight. In it, the author explains that in teaching, there is never enough. There is never enough resources. There is never enough time. There is never enough energy, even if you drink as much coffee as I do. (A pot a day. I wish I was kidding. Scratch that. No I don’t. That shit is my everything.)
Let’s take another look at this problem. Our coworkers are tired and miserable. There is never enough of anything we desperately need. How do we keep going, then?!
The answer, in my mind, is simple: This lack of what we need is exactly WHY we keep going. I think of it this way: If there is never enough (time, resources, whatever) for us professionals (and damn good-looking professionals, at that), then there is certainly never enough for our students. We do what we do to help our students grow into respectable human beings. We are the key here; teachers are what causes a balance between the lack of what students need to achieve and what we know they can do. We are a special breed of people (no surprises there!). We know how to turn the “never enough” scenarios into the “Aha!” moments. We do it every day. We do it in our sleep (seriously, if I don’t stop having the first-day-of-school-and-I-don’t-have-lesson-plans-or-supplies-or-pants-on dream I’m going to scream).
Toward the end of our Debbie-downer conversation, my colleague asked me, “What can we do?” I wasn’t able to answer her at the time, but the more I think about it, I believe the answer is actually an easy one: We teach. I firmly believe that teachers are some of the toughest people around. We have always been able to take what we’re given (if anything) and teach our asses off. In today’s edu-political climate, this has never been more important. We need to continue to teach our students what is right and what is wrong. We need to continue to force them out of their comfort zones so they can grow. We need to continue to show them what strength and determination can do for good, honest people.
In the end, despite the fact that there is truly never enough, we need to show our students that they, too, can be strong enough to always smile.