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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Why I teach...

There is so much unrest on the world right now. And I know that being a white kid in poverty is not the same as being a brown or black kid in poverty. I wasn't *really* in poverty. But I was targeted. Singled out. As a black sheep, bad kid, wrong-side-of-the-tracks kid. I was "different." Not like all the churchy, cultured kids. I was a VERY ordinary kid. If by ordinary I mean not rich, not middle class, just a working class kid in a middle class neighborhood/town, then definitely, I was ordinary. We probably lived below the poverty line most of my life. But we also lived a good life. I married into poverty (if there is such a thing) and I have battled to get out ever since (27+ years now). I am making progress, which is another post, or two or more, but today I am looking at why I teach. And I'm joining up with Michelle at BTL for her July blogging challenge.
When I was in school, I was the kid that the teachers turned their noses up at. I was VERY Junie B. Jones. I was precocious, I was unfiltered, I was very intelligent. Being a kid who was very sensitive to how others felt about me, and more importantly, my perception of how others felt about me, I had a lot of anxiety in school (huh, I wonder if that is where my kids get that from?!). I know what it is like to love my teacher and have her have to REALLY try to love me back and not really succeed. Teachers write about THAT kid all the time. The one that they have to fake it with, the one that sucks all their energy. Well, I was that kid. Now, I don't really think I was THAT difficult. I think that by today's standards, I would have been a dream student, but in that town, in that day and age, I was THAT kid. Therefore, I grew to hate school. But not learning. I was always a little bit of a nerd about input. Putting the information in the brain. I love to read and intellectualize and spout off about my grandiose opinions and thoughts and insights. Oh. That might not always be considered learning. I still love those things. I teach because I shouldn't have been THAT kid. Because in reality, no kid should be THAT kid. I teach because all it takes for me to succeed is for one person to tell me I can do something. One person told me I would be a good daycare provider, and I ran a successful business for over 4 years, and then my little girl was old enough to go to school. One person told me I was smart enough to go back to school. Look at me now. BTW.... in contrast to my very LOW high school gpa (I think it was something like 1.75), I graduated with my BS degree in education with a 3.93 gpa. Because someone took the time to believe in me. And tell me that I can, and not that I can't.
THAT is why I teach. THAT is why I love my high poverty school that has fewer than average of the "perfect" students. THAT is why I will love and believe in these kids and hold high expectations for each and every one of them, even THAT kid. And I will try like hell not to have THAT kid, because each one of them is worthy of being valued as a vital part of my class and worthy of being loved and accepted right where they are at. THAT is how I will let them know they can do anything they want to do with their little lives. Because I know one person who will believe in them. No matter what.

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