WHY? The question shouts at me: “WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?”
It’s one of those questions with plenty of expected answers.
It’s an easy question to answer for some.
It’s a question that punched me in the gut this summer.
I always believed that I became a teacher because of the influence of Miss Findlater, my fourth-grade teacher.
Last year, though, something changed. I lost focus. I walked into my classroom focused on two priorities: decorating and using tech-stuff.
I walked into my classroom focused on the images of what I should be and do gathered during a summer of social media immersion.
I wanted to be the Martha Stewart of classroom decorating!
I scoured HomeGoods (had gift cards!) and Michaels for beach-themed decor for the tables and bookshelves.
On each table, I placed baskets full of pens, pencils, highlighters, and post-its; and of course, centered on each table, a mason jar full of sunflowers. My 7th and 8th-grade kids were going to feel so comfortable in this cozy, warm and sunny environment.
And oh, the tech discoveries we would share!
I’d spent hours on Twitter! I’d #ditchedthetextbook and #googleinfused my classroom. I’d learned so many new tools from the best PLN anyone can find — I love my Twitter family!
Sounds like I set the table for success, literally and figuratively, doesn’t it?
I wish. Last year was one of the most difficult of my 36-year teaching career. As they do most years, variables such as administration changes and curriculum concerns played a role in the year’s progression. I spent time trying to integrate my new-found tools and ideas with a curriculum that was pretty well set by the administration. This led to questions and concerns from my supervisors about what I was doing, which put me on the defensive by November. That’s when I lost focus. I forgot that I and my “super-cool” ideas are not the reason I am in a classroom. Ever.
Daily, I cried my way home because I knew I didn’t “fit” at the school anymore, though I desperately wanted to please everyone there. I cried because the more I tried to explain myself, the more worried I became about failing. I cried because the feelings of failure as “a teacher” defined me as a failure. And in all of this, my kids became the background, not the foreground of my daily life.
As I focused more and more on proving that I knew what I was doing, I lost sight of the kids in front of me.
By the end of the year, I was a broken crayon, to quote one of my favorite virtual mentors, @TaraMartinEDU
And that brings me back to my first sentence: Why?
Why do I do what I do?
I need to reflect on and return to the REAL reasons for being a teacher.
I teach because I’ve been called to share with kids.
I share academic content. I share guidance and skills.
I share life experiences.
I share kindness.
I share grace.
I share encouragement.
I share all that I am (not who I think I need to be).
I share all that I’ve been blessed with (not what I’ve tried to create to impress).
I am a broken crayon who has a purpose. I look forward to walking into my next classroom with my focus on my kids. Some of whom will also be broken crayons.