This year marks my eleventh year as a middle school teacher. To say I have seen my ups and downs...would be an understatement. My "downs" have never been my students. My struggles have been more about the grown-ups and the politics and the lack of funding where we need it most. But I am happy to say that, unlike the familiar public education statistic in this country, I did not burn out after my first five years. In fact, I burned brighter when I hit my fifth year,...and I burn brighter still.
Teaching is a calling. If it isn't a person's calling, they should not teach. Period. It isn't an easy job, but it is a necessary one...for so many reasons other than academics. Academics are, of course, what we teach, but good teachers do so much more than that. I cringe when I hear a teacher say, "I'm just supposed to teach, I'm not supposed to raise the child! I'm not their parent!" I think back to how many teachers I had who loved me, gave me advice, and felt very much like a parent to me. I thank God for those teachers every day. I wouldn't be who I am today without them.
Every child doesn't go home to warm cookies and milk. And, even if their home life isn't tragic, it can sometimes be lonely and children can feel emotionally neglected. Many parents work a lot of hours to make ends meet and their family time is very limited. Some parents may pay more attention to their dating life, their phones, and their "likes" on social media than they do their children. And, often times, phones have become babysitters to keep children quiet. If you think I exaggerate, go out to dinner at a restaurant and look around you. As our society continues to grow more and more narcissistic, at an alarming rate, what will happen to our children? What is happening to our children?
I say all of this to let you know some reasons why I haven't quit my job as an educator or tried to become something in education other than a teacher. I know how important my job is because I know how important my teachers were to me when I was growing up. Teachers have not become less important in today's society, they have become much more important. Does that make the adventure more difficult? Absolutely. That's why I said it has to be a calling, not a job.
I have maintained the same level of commitment and energy to my job for ten years. And now? Now, it's time to up my game, take it to the next level. And I've been working hard this summer to prepare to do just that. You see, I'm old enough to know that things don't get better unless you step up to help make them better. And nothing gets better from sitting around complaining how difficult things are or "how kids are today." My future students need me to do more and to do better - so I shall. :)
As for books, I've not read as much as I usually do in the summer. I've been having fun outdoors, and I have been working on good things to help my students learn. Reading helps me with that, no doubt, but I've had much less 'quiet time' this summer for leisure reading. I have enjoyed every single minute of everything I've done, though - even the work part.
I finished Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, and I absolutely recommend it! It is such a good story because, while it is fantasy, it is also reality. His stories are about how people relate to each other. He simply chooses a fantastical, magical setting and odd situations to put his characters in and see what happens. The audio version by him is a true delight! Neil has definitely stolen this reader's heart.
I am currently reading The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. I just started it, but I'm excited about it. I've read plenty of books around the time of World War II, but this one is in reference to World War I. I've read very little historical fiction for that time period. Since I'm so busy these days, I decided to download the audio for it as a back up, even though I'm reading the book. I thought I could listen as I take my morning walks, sometimes. Neil was excellent company on my walks, so I thought I'd give Fiona Hardingham (the Audible narrator for Simonson's book) a try.