“Class is over already? I wish I could stay in here all day. This class is so chill.”
This statement said by a student not too long ago should make me feel happy. Happy I am connecting with this particular student, forming those oh so important relationships. But the thing that first crossed my mind is, Oh crap, I must not be doing a good job if I’m the “favorite” class or teacher. I’m not strict enough or maybe my expectations aren’t high enough which means now my evaluation is going to be awful or my growth won’t be enough on the state assessment so I’ll never get tenured. Maybe I am just not a good teacher. Maybe I never was. Is it too late to find a new career after 17, almost 18, years of doing only this?
When a student tells me I am their favorite teacher, I smile and say how nice that is, but really I am cringing on the inside. To be the favorite these days seems to mean that I am not doing a very good job at teaching them what they need to know. That I am just trying to be their friend. Being truthful, classroom management has never been one of my strong suits. I know I am probably too relaxed as a teacher, and it is hard to change this in the classroom because that is how I am as a person. It is always something I’ve had to work at, trying different things to keep my classroom running smoothly; rarely in my class is there 100% engagement or quiet or students doing exactly what I need them to be doing. That event just seems like a unicorn to me or maybe a sasquatch. It doesn’t exist in my reality. However, I REALLY do not like when being a favorite teacher is associated as trying to be their friend. Ummmm, nope. I do not want anymore friends. To me, that statement is utterly absurd. I have exactly 4 friends and that is all I want.
I genuinely love getting to know my students. I really do. I like to laugh with them, learn from them, write with them, getting them excited to read books I’ve talked about. These young humans are awesome. But, is loving my students enough?
In a meeting for non-tenured teachers, my principal talked about our passion, our reason for teaching at this particular school district. He had a specific name for it, but I can’t remember now. I definitely have passion for what I do and the students I teach, but the fact is, that passion might not be enough. I can’t lie, it hurts, but I’m starting to come to terms with this fact. It bothers me that I am just now realizing this after 17, very close to 18 years, of teaching. Why didn’t I figure it out sooner? And for crying out loud, why didn’t someone tell me? I almost feel like it has been a waste of my time. But when I think of all of the students I’ve gotten to know over these years, I know that it hasn’t been a waste of time in the least. It has been absolutely amazing.
Maybe I am not a good teacher, but I am going to keep on doing my best and loving my students as best as I can until someone tells me to stop and to go find another job.