Anyone that has ever been in my classroom knows that I love to teach. This statement is not just a euphemism or expression. My passion is profoundly set within my soul and I believe that I was placed on this earth, to live my life as a teacher. I do so with great zeal and profound pride in our profession. I scarcely gain as great a pleasure from anything else professionally, than being connected to, and a support to teachers and students.
Completing my 15th year in education and my 3rd as a district instructional coach has opened my eyes to a lot. I realize now that during my time in the classroom my principal shielded me from many things that could have distracted me from what was important, namely, focusing on my students. Now that my circle of involvement has been expanded to a district level, I now see some of the issues that cause disruptions and changes within the system leading to frustration and anxiety which detract from a teachers focus. I now recognize people and mindsets that prevent progress for one reason or another. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons, and in other instances there is no reason, only a lack of commitment to students. This lack of commitment to students is a great cause of concern to me primarily because of the negative impact on students as well as teachers.
I have witnessed teachers get shut down, and shut out. I have observed the life and passion of once strong teachers slowly bleed out of them. When a teacher begins to question why they persist and lose sight of the answer staring right in front of them, I am frightened. The answer should always be, students. However, there seems to be a clandestine force which seeks to subvert the good work that teachers do which has an immeasurable, incalculable, and invaluable impact on the future of our entire community.
My son, who is only seven, wants to be a teacher. Who knows if that will change, I am greatly saddened by momentary thoughts which hope it does change. I hope that when the time comes I will be able to guide him and even protect him, but we all know that no matter how much advise you give someone, they have to walk their own path. He will face adversity and painful trials. All I can do as his father is to prepare him with tools to overcome the challenges he will surely face. Will education be any better than it is now? Will school climate and practices be more effective when he is ready to accept his own classroom? I will continue to work and make it so.
I want to continue to be a source of hope and encouragement to others. I have been asked, "how can you be an optimist and an educator?" to which I proudly reply, how can I not be both? To be a teacher, is to see the very best in people even though they do not realize it is even there. Then, you create moments where they have opportunities to discover what you saw, and eventually see it as well. To be a teacher means that you hope, and to hope means that you have faith. I have faith that we are beings created by, for, and to love. Love is the greatest source of hope.
Let us never forget that all the love we will ever need to sustain our hope is sitting in our classrooms right now.