Teaching and learning have always been embedded in my DNA. From a young age sitting in my mom’s high school French classroom, watching my Dad in the courtroom, and my step-mother lift families through social work in the depths of Detroit Public Schools, there wasn’t much conversation about a career path. It just was sort of an understood in my mind. I would teach.
As my teaching career unfolded, I would teach the rich of the rich, and the poor of the poor, and everything in between. I vividly remember during my student teaching in inner city Cincinnati, an 8th grade student throwing a desk at me and telling me to “you know what”! Later, I would learn that she had shrapnel in her leg from a gun shot wound that occurred the year prior. Talk about a reality check. Most of my students would arrive in the morning eating a pickle. I absolutely hate pickles. But you see, pickles curb hunger, and so they figured out how to survive with no food. Can you imagine?
As the years go by I marvel at the continued spirit of teachers to keep on keeping on. As buzz words come and go, policies and curriculum initiatives change, family dynamics and mental health issues of students rise, they are still standing.
Standing tall, and standing proud, of the relevance and relationships they bring to our children. Notice I didn’t mention rigor.
While all of those items above are important, the person who builds intrinsic and social emotional wealth 8 hours a day is far more important that what your child’s state assessment says.
The person who listens, strokes, and lifts spirits, is far more important than any district benchmark.
The person who literally would DIE for your child and practices doing so monthly by locking their door and how to shield bodies with his or her own, is more important than multiplication facts.
When you look back at the three R’s–rigor, relevance, and relationships, rigor is not what you think of when you think of your most cherished or challenging teachers and professors. It’s the human connection that said ” You are important to me.”
It’s also how hard they pushed you to become who you are today.
How they made you feel.
How they allowed you to be you!
And how they never, ever, gave up on you.
So take a listen to why we teach.
Rita Pierson nails what it is like to be a teacher and why human connection is the single most important factor in the equation.
This week, amidst the gifts, cookies, cards, flowers, remember to tell them thank you, and be specific.
Their bucket needs filling too!
“Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.'” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level”. Take a look at this powerfulVIDEO!
Katey McPherson – GI Executive Director