Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Best laid plans...

My dear friend just wrote a post about what it feels like to teach future generations of young people (If any of my students are reading this, that is what you are so stop complaining that a teacher is calling you that. It is a term of endearment.) Go read what she said before you read what I said.... before you proceed!

I have taught far too many "Sadies" than I would like to believe in just five years of teaching.  They have different stories. Their baggage is different.  Their pain originates from different circumstances. Their stereotypes have different lingos.  They speak a different language.  Their yo is a y'all and their glock is a rifle. They come from different types of "rough neighborhoods." The thorn in their side comes from a different vine. But the stories are the same...empty plates, absent fathers, incarcerated mothers, pain that is driven to addictions, insecurity that breeds disorders, neglect that leads to rebellion.  

I tell these students to turn their circumstances into motivation to succeed. The question is, will that success be enough to change the direction of their future? I sure as heck hope so...and pray so...and NEED so.

I would love to say that teaching them is a joy, that I love going to work every day. At times that is true. But it is also painful and exhausting at other times.  Seeing progress in these students is exhilarating.  My heart races when I see something has finally "clicked" in those hardened minds. Sadly, I must admit that often a voice whispers, "I hope the world doesn't break them."  And I do that often, I hope. And I pray. And I love them. Because what else is there to do but love them and teach them?

And hope and pray that my lessons and prayers will be enough.

PS-Now let me say this before I get hate mail: this is not just about the small town that I teach in. I am not saying that this is every child I teach. I am not even saying that this is the majority of my students.  There are amazing parents and hard-working families whose love comes in the form of taking on every extra shift they can get to provide for their families and wishing they could be home more than they are.  There are many students who go home to stable happy homes filled with love and enrichment and home-cooked meals. Many students come to school with full bellies and hearts, eager to learn and take the world by storm. More power to ya...that was me, too. But it is this other group of students that weighs heavy on my heart at night because they don't have all of those things.  
And I say y'all, too, it was just a play on words. I'm not hating. This is my community I'm writing about. I'm raising my kids here, too.  I just pray that somewhere along the way something or someone figures out how to ensure that hard work and determination and dedication lead to some form of success for EVERY CHILD...EVERYWHERE...not just in my tiny corner of rural America.

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