There once was a young lady who could not wait to change the world. She wanted more than anything to become a teacher. Her dream came true, and she found herself in her very own classroom.
Excitedly, she poured every ounce of love into developing her craft. The first years she stressed over the “big things” like how her classroom looked, the structure of her parent newsletter, and keeping up with grading. She took pictures of all her students and laughed everyday thinking she was the luckiest person in the world.
During the next few years, her classroom decor got less snazzy while her newsletter became a lot shorter. Due to high stakes testing mandates she began to stress more over curriculum and standards. She spent countless hours writing assessments, developing spreadsheets, and learning new resources. She still loved celebrating her students’ successes and appreciated the time she could spend helping families.
Throughout the following years things became a little less bright. She had finally felt like she had the standards and curriculum down, but all the resources had changed and new buzz words came floating down from the top. She rewrote her spreadsheets, her assessments, and her learning maps. She was starting over, but for the love of her students she would not give up. She had less time for picture taking or projects; the class had too many “things” to do as they raced to cover standards.
That young teacher was now considered a veteran. She became a teacher mentor and tried to help those new smiling faces meet their dream profession with adjusted expectations. The tide was shifting in her own classroom as well. More and more students came in unfed and unhappy. More and more parents stopped answering their phones and when they did their stinging displeasure for information about their child was made abundantly clear. While her students were seemingly growing out her reach, expectations mounted from those above. Little by little she hung up her hope in exchange for amour.
That young, loving teacher was not so young anymore. She became really good at writing assessments and curriculum because yet again it was changing. She became really good at dealing with difficult students and parents because it seemed there was nothing she had not seen. She became really good at managing her time because she knew how to brush off her family and eat at her desk. She became really good at everything except remembering why she started this career in the first place.
The love for teaching that began in her heart had somehow ended in her head. Every ounce of wisdom had been paid with a labor of love. Her mind felt full, but her heart was hollow. She still loved every student that entered her class, but her belief that she could really change their lives was growing dimmer by the day. Somehow, she began to think the heartache was not worth it.
That young teacher was now ready for retirement and reflecting on her arduous career. Every thought was of former students and families. She saw memories of love and laughter. She saw memories of disappointment or sorrow but relished in the comfort of those who lifted her up while she was down. She thought of all the amazing life lessons she learned along the way. After 35 years of teaching, when the chaos in her mind settled, she realized her heart was full.
This is the tale of a teacher’s heart. The journey is difficult. The lessons come hard. The truth is when it is all said and done, sometimes we let ourselves give a damn about the wrong things. We tell our hearts to shut up and we try to think our way around the immense problems thrown at our feet. Do not forget it is your heart that led you here, so give it a seat at the table when your mind feels it cannot carry on. The solution to every problem in life should come from where it all began- love.