I recently had a conversation with someone about how to compartmentalize the roles of being a human and being a teacher. Turns out, you can’t. Teachers have their responsibilities laid out as an exhaustive to-do list. We run on a schedule that is basically never on schedule and expected to be prim and proper when that O’Canada starts playing. Our day doesn’t end when the bell rings and the kids scramble out the door. In fact, my day just starts. I sit there limp and go over conversations I’ve had with a kid during my recess duty or one that caught me as I was eating my lunch. The ones that normally got to me were the moments when the roles of being a teacher and a student dissolve. The organic nature of human beings simply engaging in conversations made it seem like a bigger story, not just a footnote.
It begs me to ask the question, how can we not take that work home with us when our home was now our work? It’s doggone easy to sit there and say I’ve done my part as a teacher. I stayed 10 minutes to answer questions, I worked through my prep, I made sure to email extra practice to those who needed it but I knew in my heart they weren’t going to do it anyways.
At least I did my part. And yet when the human side rolls around with its list of responsibilities – that work never ends.
Was that a red flag? He mentioned it more than once. Is he doing it for attention? Shouldn’t there be a level of trust when someone tells you they are okay?
It’s easy to put things in a box and when those boxes get filled, we find bigger boxes because the physical space of the room has no walls. But when those ‘things’ aren’t clearly defined and don’t belong in a box, it sits there, eventually in its own neat little pile. And those piles of things become mountainous and tumble. And then we get a call from TLC to be a show called “Hoarders”. Let’s at least just give the impression that we’re organized people. Just put things in a box. No one really looks in there but you.
Why are we so quick to dismiss our own feelings? You know why? Because it was like sitting in murky bath water that made things extremely uncomfortable. And yet, I was being drawn to it because it was warm and familiar. Standing out of the bath naked and cold didn’t seem like the best runner-up. So I just sit there stewing in my own filth. But hey, at least it’s warm.
It’s crazy to think you can never truly understand how many people you’ve reached. That number could range from 1 to the hundreds. I tell my students all the time, whether they believe it or not, that their voice matters to me. To count at least one person that believes in them. Kids are funny that way, they laugh and joke about how they don’t care about school or their future and yet they still show up. (Mainly because I make them, but I like to think they enjoy my presence)
And that’s all we have to do. Just show up.