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August 18, 2019

Why teaching is the most important job (I may be biased)

Sometimes as teachers, I think we forget how short a school year really is. What little time there is to impact the lives of the youngsters were entrusted with.

Recently, a student who moved (after her family lost their home) and therefore left our school, emailed me.

This girl, who was so quiet and reserved while in my classroom for 7 months, said more to me in that message than she had in our entire time knowing each other.

She told me what her current favorite book is and why. She admitted to feeling unsure of her new surroundings. She started the message with a simple “hi” and ended the longer than she intended email with, “wow, that was a long hi.”

A few weeks ago, when she told me about the move and I saw the anxiety in her young face, I gave her my school email address. I said, if you ever need anything, please let me know.

She took the sticky note, and I honestly thought I might find the hot pink square in my trash can or recycling bin later that same day.

I never thought she’d take it home, remember it during her hurried move (they were evicted), and use it.

There are many days as an educator where I feel like I failed, despite always giving my kids (yes, I said kids not students) my best.

Maybe it’s because they didn’t perform as well on an exam as I’d hoped. Maybe a kid – who I thought I’d gotten through to – leaves school and makes the bad decision I advised against anyway.

The truth is, as an inner city teacher, there can be more losses than wins in your daily life.

For you, and your students.

But it’s that – the odds being stacked against us and our kids – that make those victories all the more sweet.

I often think, where will these 12 and 13-year-olds be 10 years from now?

Their city, it’s rough. Will they have beat the unfortunate odds and become a college graduate? Or will they sadly become another statistic I cry over when reading the news?

What I want my students (my OTHER, NOT BIOLOGICAL kids) to know is this:

I care less about you knowing how to write the perfect essay than I do about you becoming the great people I know you can be.

Believe in yourself as much as I believe in you. Know you’re loved. You’re appreciated. You matter.

Never allow yourself to be labeled. You are you and that’s exactly what this world needs.

Once you’re assigned a seat in my classroom, you’re forever one of my kids. Like it or not (sorry).

Although I go home to children of my own, you’re never not in my thoughts. I worry and care about you well past the last ringing of the bell.

Remember, I’m only an email away.

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