Teach with Heart

8:00 AM

As many of you know, last year I made the leap back to education as I started taking classes and the necessary tests to become a teacher in Virginia. I'm already so lucky that I get to spend my days, Monday through Friday with the best First and Second graders there are (not that I'm biased). However, the more time I spend in school (elementary school that is), I realize that teaching is not just making a cute lesson plan and assessing students' knowledge.

It's determining if a student needs to see the nurse, or if they're lying to you.
It's determining if a student needs help with their home life.
It's making sure every student feels like they belong, no matter what their struggle is.
It's being a hero for a child who doesn't have one at home.
It's being the person they want to see and hug every day (and believe me hugs are endless).

It's also the duels with unhappy children as you try to help make their day better.
It's the tears on the playground as they are sure they're dying (they're not, I promise).
It's answering the tough questions like "why do I have to do this?" (they aren't fans of "because I said so").
It's having a smile on your face even when you feel terrible and just want to be at home in bed.
It's being able to say, "I'm doing this because its the best for you".
It's watching them pass hurdles they never thought they could overcome.
It's having your heart burst with joy.

And that is one school day.
image via

That's right: it isn't done in a year, but in a day. At all times, a teacher is fulfilling every single roll possible: education, parent, friend, mentor, and voice of reason. All within an 8 hour or so long school day.

If you think I'm joking, you didn't have the week I had.

As I'm currently working on my first unit plan for one of my classes, I realize how excited I am to share these lessons with my future classes. At the same time, I think about how my students last year and this year. Could they do this assignment? What if they had a bad day? Could x student do this, or would they need something else? Then, my brain floats away from the unit plan I'm supposed to be doing to "I wonder if this child is still acting up?" and "I hope this year is better for x, they deserve it". And let's not forget the "I saw so and so the other day and they looked so happy and confident, what a change from last year". To the "I'm so glad so and so finally passed their level of sight words they've been on for so long, I wonder how I can make learning them easier for her?" and "maybe we should try reading x book, maybe then they'll like reading more".

This is what makes me realize why I want to teach. It isn't because I want to be paid the big bucks (obviously). It's not because I want all the presents or the hugs in the world. Its because I want to serve my students and help make their lives better in some way.

That doesn't mean giving everyone a smiley face on every paper, either. This means challenging them. This means sitting with them for hours making sure they know their sight words, their math facts. That they have strategies to help them be successful as they come across tougher aspects of their education. It's holding their hand on a tough day and making sure they get the help they need.

As each day goes on, and I ask (ridiculous) questions as I continue my own education, I realize that teaching isn't for the lighthearted (or the person with the queasy stomach), it's for the person with the big heart. At the end of the day, when you're past all of your frustration points, that's what it takes: heart.

 with southern grace,