Having taken a break from Jack Toth’s “The Teacher Every Student Wants and Needs” it was time to dive back into it. I always look forward to these readings, yeah I know insane university student here, but this time I did not dive into it with the same fervor I had in the past. Lately, I’ve been feeling like the students in the story, misunderstood, a little lost, in need of guidance. It’s been very hard to reach for my gifts, abilities, and that desire to succeed. The fight to keep negative influence and procrastination out of my life. The drive is fading, but what I can appreciate is that because of my mentors and heroes I have the ability to reach deeper inward and fight harder than before.
The first take-away from Jack Toth’s story is that as educators we must be resilient and demonstrate to our student’s what resiliency is. We need to show our students how to conquer their inner demons and to do that we first must face our own inner demons. I’m beyond sad, that I cannot replicate my achievements of last semester. The system is against it. So I need to face the inner demon of giving up. I need to know how to face this challenge head on, so I can show my students how to fight through difficult times. I can’t give up. I could in the past, but this time is different. This time I believe in myself. I believe that I can and will make a difference. I wrote a post on why it is important to know who your heroes are. This is why I wrote it. Heroes show us that we have something to fight for and I believe that is what the teacher in the story is striving for.
Some of our students will not have positive role models in their lives. This positive influence makes such a huge difference and as an educator we must shoulder the heavy load of being that positive role model for our students. I have no problem doing that, but that load comes with a cost. As teachers we need to sacrifice personal time to ensure we are available for our students as often as possible. We sacrifice a personal privacy that other occupations receive. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve been down that other path, I’ve had the option of leaving work at work, and the sacrifice I know that I should make while teaching is one that I know that it is worth it. In the novel we are shown first hand how if a teacher makes this sacrifice and opens themselves up to their students the impact is tremendous. As teachers we have more power than any other occupation to create the future of our world. We may not shape it completely, but we lay the foundation for the future.
This sacrifice isn’t without a downside. It will take a lot of time and energy. It will take a supportive spouse who understands that my students are an extension of my family. But how do we let students in without issues arising? How do we protect ourselves without becoming too guarded? In the novel we are shown that “Mr. Teacher” has to confront a female student outside of school about an issue in a low-risk environment, like a restaurant, due to the student having major issues in other aspects of life. The character discusses the potential issues and solutions, but I feel that this is a recipe for disaster. However, I appreciate the solution that was presented in the end. The character did everything the way I think I would have done. He talked to administration and had full support of the parents. I think this situation showed that as teachers we need to include everyone within the classroom in order to ensure we can open ourselves up as much as possible in order to reach our students. Admin and parents need to be involved and informed if we are to succeed in becoming the teacher every student wants and needs.
In reading this story I discovered so many parallels between it and my own life experiences. It was like looking in a window to my own soul. From front to back this story reminded me why I chose to change professions and go into education. It reminded me that I am on a lifelong journey of personal and professional learning. It reminded me of the power that teachers have and that we should not stand idly by while we can make a difference if we chose to accept it. If we choose to accept our gifts, abilities, and desire to succeed we can impart those believes on the future of our world. When we stand up for our students we can assist students in finding their true self and become what they truly want to become. But as the title states, no one ever said this was going to be easy. No one has informed us of the personal costs that may come of this career. No one has said that we will get every student to buy in to our messages. No one said that there are students that we will lose and the price paid may be the life of a student. In the end we are still human. We will make mistakes. We will allow emotion to affect our decisions and it may lead us in the wrong direction. But I’m willing to try. I’m willing to lay it all on the line for the chance to see at least one student find what they are looking for in themselves. Why? I made a personal choice to take the harder path. No one said it would be easy, and that’s fine by me.