Teachers, Superpowers, And Just Doing What You Do
Those That Can, Do
Teachers - It Ain't About The "Power"
"I'm a teacher. What's your superpower?"
That was emblazoned on a journal I received this year at Christmas, and I don't know if it's a fair question. As teachers, we often have far more on our plates than simply teaching curriculum and our students are frequently plagued by challenges that we may not have been fully trained to deal with in teachers' college.
Does dealing with these two aspects of our careers mean we have superpowers? No.
We also have parents we have to contact regularly, we are often engaged in secondary responsibilities, like hall duties, coaching, or participating in any one of a number of committees. In addition, we have marking and course prep on an ongoing basis. Throw that in with most of us having families of our own "after hours" and needing to parent and clean or organize our homes and get our kids to any one of a number of activities or events or even grocery shop, and you have a pretty clear picture of the responsibilities teachers have to tackle in any given day, month or school year.
Does all of this make a teacher heroic or even superheroic? Probably not, and if you think about it, dry cleaning for all those capes might create a huge dent in a teacher's bank account.
However, in the eyes of students who might see us as that rare soft spot to land when their lives are turned upside down or as that one responsible adult they can trust when their own worlds might not be that safe for them, it might be a different story.
We hear all the time about how it's great to be a teacher because you get summers off or how it's awesome that we can do certain activities as part of our courses, but in reality, that's not the reason we got into the field, and we sure didn't get into the profession because of the salary - that's a lousy reason to get into any line of work, let alone anything in education. The fact of the matter is, teaching is one of those professions where a difference can be made every day, and you only hope when you look back and reflect on the difference you hopefully made that it was a good one.
When a kid comes up to you and asks if they can talk to you about something, those are the moments where you realize that what you do is about far more than just teaching someone to speak a different language, work an equation or communicate ideas effectively. We're there to help kids realize a whole lot more than that. Whether it's that there are adults in the world that truly do care, or that the struggles that they might be going through in any given time frame are not as permanent as they might feel they are, teachers are there to help kids navigate the minefields they might encounter in their educational career, both as scholars and as contributing members of society.
Sometimes, it's easy to forget the difference we can make. With the increasing expectations on teachers as far as reporting and other paperwork that goes along with our daily workload inside the school environment, it can be easy to slide into the mindset that our careers are "jobs" instead of "life-changing careers for both you and your students."
But we do and can make a difference in people's lives. The payoff is when we see "our" kids who fought for so long through something come out safely on the other side. It may be when they see you in that restaurant or public venue and tell you that you were somehow special to them, or that without you, they'd have still been struggling with whatever they were faced with. It's when you realize that in spite of what they were working through - or perhaps because of what they went through - they did, in fact, turn out okay in spite of the hours you spent worried about their welfare.
Are we heroes? No.
Do we make a difference?
Absolutely, and we need to remember that in those dark moments when we ourselves might need a lift.