For the Tired Teacher

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I’ve been an educator for around five years now, and my experience has been one that I appreciate, but saddens me at the same time. I think about my babies and the education they receive compared to mine, and I can’t help but see so many glaring differences. I’m not saying that my education was perfect and that all kids should be able to get the learning I did, but what I do know is that they should get more than what they’re getting right now.

Teaching is a calling, and if I’m honest, in Urban Ed it’s the call is more like I blaring alarm at 2:37 in the morning telling you that your neighborhood is under seige and you’re the only one that can fix it. But, all you have to wage war with is 20 desks for 28 kids, a few outdated textbooks and a granola bar to split amongst the kids who didn’t eat last night.

I know that sounds dramatic, but if I said that it was far from the truth I would be lying. Every single day I see kids who have not eaten since lunch the day before, who did not rest because they were watching their baby siblings, and who are in 9th grade but are still considered beginning readers. It’s terrifying, and it’s real.

And quite frankly, y’all, I am tired. I am tired of giving 150% because the state only gives about 48. I’m tired of having to console girls whose mothers didn’t come home last night. I’m tired of being a parent, educator, therapist, mediator, critical thinker, data analyst, chef, motivational speaker, and so many other things for $2 a day. I’m tired, and I know you are, too.

But the craziest thing of all - and you probably won’t believe me - is that I would not trade what I do for anything. Yes, I wish that school funding made more sense and people recognized the amount of work teachers do everyday. Yes, I am sick of hearing people talk about wishing they were a teacher to get summers off (those summers are majority unpaid, and still do not equal the amount of time we spend on your kids). But, at the end of the day, I get up out of my bed and drive to work because of my kids.

Ms./Mr. Teacher, I know you’re tired. I know your job comes with a whole lot of things that you would just rather not deal with. I know that society paints your/our kids as less than, as not capable, as nothing. I know you know different - I know you see our babies with the greatest potential even in the least amount of opportunity. I know your job is one of the most difficult things you have ever had to do, and you do it every day. I know, and I see it, and I see you.

From one tired teacher to another, happy Teacher Appreciation Week. I see you, and we’re winning.