In the wake of the incredible Red for Ed Action Day rally and on the brink of Thanksgiving Break, I pause to take stock in my life as a teacher. Despite the many problems that have cast a dark cloud over public education, there is still much that I can find to for which to be thankful.
I am thankful that I live in a nation where I am free to gather in the public square and voice my concerns. Patriotism, at its heart, is a love for one’s country and a desire to make it better. When our elected leaders are not doing the job for which they were elected, we have the right and the duty to rise up and make our concerns public. Our elected leaders work for us. We put them there and they need to know that we can just as easily remove them.
I am thankful that I have many thousands of brothers and sisters who care as much about students and the future of our country as I do. I’m so thankful that I got so see so many of them gathered in one place, joined together in one voice for a common cause. Patriots one and all.
I am thankful for the multitude of friends of public education who showed so much support for teachers as we gathered to be heard.
I am thankful that, despite all the issues that mount upon us as public school teachers, teaching is still one of our great passions. Despite all the obstacles put before us, we somehow manage to summon the energy to find a way to teach our kids.
I’m thankful that I teach in a school that struggles everyday not to be defined by an arbitrary, meaningless letter grade given to us based upon a formula designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
I’m thankful that my colleagues in my school fight the good fight each and every day working diligently to change the mindset of our kids who feel down-trodden and stigmatized when the elected officials they should be looking up to are labeling them as failures. It is a hard daily struggle to turn the tide of a culture made negative by lawmakers who put politics before children.
I’m thankful for the dozens of students in my charge each day who are so riddled with trauma that they view their world through the eyes of a scarred and frightened victim. Although they can make my job extremely difficult, when I step back and take a deep breath, I understand that they need me, they need their peers, and they need the nurturing and safe environment of school to bring a degree of normalcy into an otherwise topsy-turvy lives. I’m thankful that, for 8 hours a day, those students will receive two meals (a blessing many can’t count on outside the school walls), the supervision of adults who care about them, and a chance to just be a kid.
Sometimes teaching can feel like you are trying to act like everything is normal while all around you is burning to the ground. But we have no choice but to put on our best teacher face and just carry on teaching. I’m thankful that I am not alone. I’m thankful that there are a multitude of people out there that I now know have my back.
I am thankful for hope.
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