Daaaaaaawg, I miss teaching so much that I’ve written a letter to it. Not a teacher, not a principal, not a school or even a district, community. I miss the freaking ART of teaching. The opportunity to change a life, impact a decision, the thrill of seeing a kid make better choices. I miss it. I’ve substituted but of course that doesn’t fill the gap. I tutor and it comes close. I’ve started a “management system” for parents to help with all the demands of online schools and remote learning. It feels like authentic and aligned with my message, philosophy and vision.
Nothing replaces teaching. The regular interaction with young people, parents and decision makers. *sigh*
Yoooo! What is good with you? How are things? Are you panicked about the impending and upcoming changes? I don’t mean to flood you with questions buuuuut, *looks around* I miss you homie. I miss the conversations with people trying to change the community and the reactions of the community. I miss the conversations with students and earning their trust. The stories that they would share and the necessary adjustments I had to make. I was GOOD at those adjustments too! I had no fear of visiting a home on weekends, after school, early mornings and all without pay. Teaching, you brought authenticity to winning despite challenges, the respect when people OVERstand I’m sincere in my caring and empathy. Teaching flaunted the positive changes that students would make after realizing their ceiling was higher than they ever thought. You and I called parents, on Friday, to brag about what their child had done RIGHT. *beats chest* That was the highlight of my Friday! Hearing their initial shock at our first call, their child BEAMING beside me, proud of themselves and hyper aware that THEIR effort made parents and caretakers smile. I miss having REAL discussions about issues with particular students, specific groups and how to address them. Other teachers and I often gathered for drinks and think tanks, banging out new tactics, new ways of speaking, anything to see that “I get it” in students’ eyes. I miss earning their respect too. As a teacher, my methods and philosophies often clashed with standard protocols and procedures. My appearance of tattoos, chrome rims and oozing swag terrified some teachers, angered others and absolutely freed a few. My antics and shenanigans kept the heat of administration off their backs and out of their classrooms. I remember one year, a colleague told me, “Avant. I don’t know WHAT you do with your door closed and kids yelling so much but your regular kids are outscoring my Pre-AP kids so we gotta talk.” *nodding head* That was special than a mug to me, for me. Teaching, YOU made me useful! I also remember the write-ups for insubordination, negligence towards administration, skipping permissions and laughing off the threat of “we can’t pay OT for that.” I miss being a part of something bigger than me or my ego. That sensation of team victory when our school scores came in and we beat the odds again and again and again. Teaching gave me a sense of direction and purpose before I OVERstood my passion and purpose. Teaching took me out of dope houses, looking for ways to fit in and impress peers. Instead, those same kids and parents came to me and I saw it as a chance to keep them with me, away from bullshit, negativity and apathy. Before teaching, I was lost. I was ignorant of growth, personal development and maturity. In my silly mind, stories were written and people didn’t change. Teaching, YOU were the first to open my heart, feed my soul and give me goals. Yeah, goals. *winks* I wouldn’t miss a day because I feared THAT was the day something big would happen. I wouldn’t raise my voice at specific groups because I knew that’s the only language they heard. I wouldn’t use school/department projects because my goal was to only assign work that related to the students’ lives. I miss serving the community, knowing the community and loving the community. The ragged gas station where “stuff always happens” was my SPOT. I met parents there, uncles, aunts, grands and of course, students. I miss running to that ugly car wash and getting my car done in 15 minutes, buying a few “entrepreneurial pieces” and using the visit to convince students to do their schoolwork. Teaching, I miss you and the grinding, building, hustling that came with you.
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