I put 110% into my career as a teacher even though I consciously know I run at 100. The added 10% is reserved for my students that just need a little bit more: an end of the day check-in, a 2-minute conversation about their bombed math test in the hall or a quick email to see how their summer is going. They are the ones that I know have the potential to be incredible human beings even though others have told them otherwise. Sitting here and thinking about those little buggers who have impacted my life to such a great extent, have me tearing up a little. (Wait no, I just have something in my eye). I’d never ask my students for anything in return; I just hope they walk out of our little box of a classroom and become productive members of society. However, the TED Talk moment is ruined when a kid asks me if selling drugs counts as being a productive member in the drug society, all I can say is, “Thanks Adam!

We are all selfish creatures by nature so we always look for things that will add value to us. We weigh the odds and make executive decisions about whether certain things should or should not be in our lives. We take control of how much we allow in and sift out the ones that eat away at our humanity. It’s not a bad mentality to think that we will always get something in return. But at the same time, it shouldn’t be expected. The moment that happens and you start to think you are entitled to be treated or talked to a certain way, you think it’s your world and sorry buddy, it’s not.

I’m selfish in terms of not knowing how to be selfish (so I’ve been told); I was making myself available for everyone else but me. When we give more than we take, we start to slowly lose that sense of balance and the lines start to blur. It becomes a consistent exhaustion that just starts to slip by and eventually, when the work or effort is acknowledged, it becomes something we brush off. It becomes toxic when it develops as a normalization in your life. You start to yes to everything, live by other people’s schedule and suddenly, you wake up to someone else’s alarm clock.

The more effort that you put into something, you just hope people will see it, not acknowledge it, but transfer that mentality into their own lives. I don’t consider myself as a role model but I do see myself as having the ability to make myself relatable. There’s also a vulnerability piece that I’m slowly starting to come to terms with. We attach ourselves to familiarity, and 9 out of 10 times it’s something that’s rooted deep within us. This is why that extra 10% is so important and I choose to spend it talking with my students. There’s always a reason why they act out and until you listen to them you will have absolutely no idea. If they see someone put the effort into them, you just hope that it will be reciprocated when they get out into the world. Or maybe I’m just naive and they will end up being productive members in the drug society like Adam.

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This is why I love Algebra! The left side has to equal the right side, it cannot be the slighest bit off. I love when my students ask me why does it have to equal? My response is always, are you okay if it’s not? I know, I’m completely contradicting myself since my life is broken seesaw with rocks on one side and feathers on another. But until I get that fixed, let’s just hope you give someone that 10% one day. It will mean the world to them.

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