Friday, April 26, 2013

They Deserve Us

I recently had a chance to reconnect and visit with an old acquaintance at a conference. After a few years of serving as a literacy coach, she moved to an intervention specialist position. She mentioned the intense pressure teachers in her district are under because of the heavy emphasis being placed on test scores. Like many of us she is working with students who are new to English, have learning disabilities, or for one reason or another came to her significantly below standard.

At first, she talked with pride about the enormous gains her students have made. Then she said she had become extremely discouraged because it wasn't perceived as good enough by higher administration. This master, veteran teacher said she had wrestled with thoughts of quitting, thinking "I'm not sure I can do this anymore." But then she followed up with, "No. I can't do that. These kids deserve me."

She said it with such passion that I got goose bumps. And she is right. She is an outstanding teacher. The students she is working with do deserve her. They have demonstrated tremendous growth and have developed a love of reading under her guidance this year.

How are you feeling? Here in the Seattle area we have something called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD for short). We live in a beautiful, lush, green part of the country, but the many days of rain and gray can dampen the spirits of even the most resilient cheerful souls. Likewise, the current educational climate can easily lead to discouragement. However, if we keep in mind the reasons we became teachers in the first place and if we teach with excellence, passion, and love, we can buoy ourselves up. We can renew our resolve and get back in there, because frankly, these kids do deserve us.