As a very obese person, I know that my life expectancy is going to be shorter than most people. Since have children late in life, I need to have my life be a whole lot longer than it is now. Weight loss is now one of the up most important things in my life. I want to see my kid’s graduate college, high school, gets married and meet my grandkids. Exercise and better eating habits are essential to my weight loss and adding many more years to the end of my life span. During those years, I want to be active with my kids. I want to be their coach in sports, take them on vacations to learn the history of our company and see once in a life time places.
The hardest thing about teaching is the lack of respect from everyone over 18. Teachers and leadership teams make a lot of our school policy, but we're also impacted frequently by decisions made high above our heads. It's frustrating to be handed a set of rules or curriculum by someone who has never been a teacher. Education is different from so many other fields because everyone has been to school, so everyone feels they know how school should work â obviously, this must be true, because everyone who has ever flown in an airplane is qualified to be a pilot. Parents remember what school was like for them, or how much they hated homework, or how lazy their social studies teacher was and they carry that college-ruled trauma with them as they walk their kids in the door on back to school night. Legislators and school reformers and every article commenter have a hundred things teachers should do differently and zero hours of field experience. It's maddening to try and work in a hurricane of noise generated by people who feel so entitled to directing us.
Now I've made a career out of helping kids. I'm a teacher. And I feel slimy saying that. Probably because during this time of year I'm no longer in "helping kids" mode. I'm in survival mode. I am so deep in the trenches that I forget why I teach. I wanted to teach to cultivate joy. I wanted to make school feel like less of a prison. Because that's what it felt like to me most of the time during my school years, except in those certain classrooms where joy was a priority.
When I was little, there was a kid that sat alone on his porch for hours every day after school. I passed him on my walk home. He usually kept his backpack on. Sometimes he took out a book and read. I asked my mom what she thought that kid was doing out there, sitting like a pathetic lump on the steps. She said she suspected his mom was a hooker. I didn't understand how this answered my question. There was another kid on my street that I saw at his living room window sometimes. He was small. Peeking out from behind the couch, he would watch his mom back out of the driveway. I was pretty sure he was left there alone. Like the porch kid, he knew hours of daily solitude. I don't know where their fathers were. I worried about these kids. I wondered later in life why my family didn't do anything to help them. But we took in stray cats, not kids.
These are the times that I know I need a break. I cannot give everything of myself. And I can't save everyone. On my drive from school, I look at the dilapidated trailers that populate so much of this town and wonder which ones my students call home. It's easy to feel paralyzed.
My first year of teaching 5th grade in a public school in Chicago, a bullet went through the window across the hall from me. That same year, my white, Jewish cousin entered the 5th grade at a public, predominately white, school on Chicago's North Side. I watched and listened to her father fuss over the inadequacies of a teacher, or homework policy that he felt was concerning. This seemed like a privileged complaint to me. He'd be worried about the vagueness of an assignment while I was worried about not having toilet or copy paper for the next day. If my cousin was in a school where a bullet went through the window, her world would have stopped, changes would be made, and school would feel safe.