One more reason to care

It is easy to fell overwhelmed and unimportant. It is easy to say, “that's not my problem” or “that's not my student” or “that's none of my business” when we see problems. But it has dire consequences.

For anyone who entertains the thought of being indifferent about the importance of educating our youth, tell them this story.

You see, the very nature of things can be disturbed by cold indifference. On March 29, 1948, everyone living within earshot of Niagara Falls squinted into the winter sunshine as they craned their necks to hear …. nothing.

Nothing, because heavy winds had pushed the ice fields of Lake Erie to block the entrance of the Niagara River near Buffalo, NY. The river had stopped. Against the natural order and every law of nature, icy, cold obstacles stopped the natural order of things.

It resumed only when the ice shifted.

I would challenge you to consider that many of our educational problems stem from cold indifference. Indifference of some who would rather filter out everything instead of working with teachers to unblock certain sites in an ad hoc manner. Indifference of those who would rather force schools to conform to their knowledge base than to learn something new. Indifference of those who think that yesterday's success in the classroom will also be the savior of tomorrow. Indifference of those who just want to get a paycheck and would rather play Solitaire. Indifference of people who would rather throw money at problems than their lives.

Educating children and teens requires passion.
I believe that a good teacher has one thing undergirding everything in their classroom… an honest, genuine love for their students. Because students see frigid indifference and they tune it out. They see enough frigidity in this tough, cold world.

What they want to see are warm bodies with open arms who will push them to excellence beyond what they realize that they can do. Teachers and administrators who will push their own envelope of knowledge before they ask students to do the same. Teachers who don't just “bide their time,” call in sick to staff development, and complain.
I'm sorry, folks, but if somebody invited me to a pity party … I'd skip.
No one wants to be around the hopeless, indifferent frigidity of a person who has given up the dream of making a difference!

Educating is truly the greatest calling on earth.
Instead of just putting money in the bank, you are carving meaning into the lives of students and leaving a mark on your own soul. If you truly love your students. If you truly give them all you have and come home at the end of the day used up on your quota of words and wondering how you will even move from one room to the next. If you teach with all you have and all you are. If you care so much that you lay awake at night thinking and praying about how to reach that one student who is not just getting it…

then you have achieved greatness.

You, my friend, are great because you have poured out your one life and multiplied all of the love and passion you have into hundreds and thousands of other lives.

Sadly, I had a student transfer in this year. I asked him who his teachers were last year.. he couldn't tell me their names. He said that was “OK, because none of them knew his name anyway.”

This profession is about caring. It is about doing the impossible and reaching the remote.

It is about striking that rock of knowledge against the flint of an unlit psyche so many times and with such persistence that sparks emerge and catch fire the flame of the quest for knowledge that will never be extinguished.

We must always want to be better. We must be willing to put up with being misunderstood, underappreciated, and underpaid. For, what we do, if we truly care, we would do without compensation.

Teaching is a noble profession, the most noble in my opinion. I've never felt so rewarded and so full of meaning in my life. My river will never stop because of indifference.

What about you?

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4 thoughts on “One more reason to care

  1. Well, as I had to have a “Come to Jesus” meeting with my 5th and 7th periods today, this is a very good post for me. There are days when I want to squash many of these teenagers like a bug, but I just love them too much. I feel like you, Vicki. It is a calling- a passion. This passion is also what drives my frustration with teachers who refuse to make it their passion. They say things like, “That’s not in my job description” or “I don’t have time for that stuff”. Those who seek to get better and seek to find new and engaging things to do in the classroom are often shunned by those who don’t have the same passion. Thanks for your words of encouragement. Keep it up!

  2. It’s really encouraging to read someone else that feels that caring is a top priority for teachers. To be honest it makes teaching easy. Students are receptive when they know you care. It makes all the difference when things get tough, as they do when you are in a learning environment with others.

  3. Too bad you can’t test caring, then it could be put on the National teaching test.;)
    Seriously this is one reason why I think that elementary ed teachers need to be at the middle school level. We are more about teaching kids than the subject… I know old argument.
    After teaching 32 years I still love what I do. I could retire, but I still want to work with kids and introducing them to the Web 2.0-how cool is that?
    I get up and walk away from teachers who are just badmouthing everything about their students & classes.If it isn’t their passion any more then don’t do it.
    I love my job so much that one of my daughters became a teacher and I think it is great. My husband wanted her to get a job where she could really support herself, but she has the bug. She is a great first grade teacher.
    Don’t your students steal a corner of your heart? Good thing it is so big.

  4. To me, teaching is about building relationships. I have found from experience that if I do not have a positive relationship with a student, they do not want to perform in my class. That is not acceptable! Relationship comes first. Fortunately, I have a pretty good relationship with most of my students BECAUSE I care enough to ask them how they are doing and really mean it. I have had to get tough with some of them recently – but once you get them one-on-one and really talk to them, things come usually come around.
    My own teenagers are the same – they need to relate to the teacher to really want to perform especially in those courses where they are not especially interested.
    Yes, I am frustrated too with apathetic teachers who are counting the days until retirement. Teaching is indeed a high calling, an exhausting calling, a tough calling, and sometimes I think one needs to be a lunatic to be a teacher, but I can’t imagine doing anything different from teaching. Thanks for your thoughts, Vicki!

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