I would like to argue there really isn’t anything that hard about the doing of a teacher’s job. Oh, there are overwhelming, too much to do moments. And exhausting moments. And early morning, long day moments. But there isn’t really anything that hard about the doing of a teacher’s work.
It’s the being a teacher that’s hard. For in being a teacher, your heart splits open with all the things you cannot fix and all the things you cannot do or cannot do enough of.
When your heart aches for a family you barely know and you long to comfort child who has been through more pain han anyone should bear. Yet you know a hug won’t fix or mend or take away any of it.
The problem isn’t yours to fix, but you feel so responsible somehow, anyway. And so you teach them for a short time while they’re yours: math, science, reading, writing—things that might help them. And maybe they aren’t ready to learn. And you don’t know why, can’t pinpoint the problem—the problem you can’t fix.
Maybe you try a hundred things, and some work for a minute or even a lot of minutes. Maybe you bandage the hardships. At best, you impact the heart and future. But there is so much you don’t know. And you know you don’t know.
And the behaviors come, and maybe they are just behaviors or maybe they are pleas for help. And the learning struggles come. Maybe they are just that, or maybe they are flags of more. And always you don’t know just exactly the magic way to fix either thing, no matter the root cause, even if you can find the root cause.
So you make the environment of your piece of their world the best you can. But you can’t excuse them from all the work they must do and all the things they should learn because that wouldn’t help them at all. But pushing academics doesn’t always feel right.
And so you strive for perfect balance. And you can’t shield them from the harshness of the world, from the parts of theirs that aren’t yours to control.
You can’t fix it all. Even on a good day. Can’t teach it away. And so your arms ache to hold their tiny selves and protect them. Your mind spins, trying to find the perfect strategy, to engage, to teach, to inspire, to keep them going, to make them see what you see—their strength, their resilience, their potential.
And you know no matter what struggle or hardship, you won’t stop showing them that. Because maybe, just maybe, you can set their course on a little smoother path. Maybe they’ll remember that you believe in them and tried things with them. And that they shouldn’t ever give up on themselves.
Oh, anyone can do the work of the teacher. It’s not hard to stand in the room and teach. But not everyone can be a teacher. Because sometimes it is hard on your heart, and yet it drives you. You would not choose to walk away because you already chose them—those kiddos—and you would choose them again every day.