This is the tenth part of my Reflection Series – a self-reflection of my year teaching in the UK.
What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher?
That I care.
Simple as that.
I think we are often overlooked as human beings by students, other staff, senior leadership, policy makers, parents, and the public. Most of us have gotten into this job because we care about young people. Most of us stay in this job only for that reason. When it gets hard, and boy does it get damn hard, that is the thing that keeps me going.
When I can’t be bothered doing something, or I get worn out or fed up, that is the thing that keeps me going.
When I get yet more work to do, or feel like I can’t do anything right, that is the thing that keeps me going.
I work my ass off for my kids. I don’t do it for the school, or for the money, or for the thanks, I do it because I was my kids to succeed in whatever they choose to do with their lives. I want them to be happy, healthy, safe. I want them to be happy so much it hurts. I care so much it hurts sometimes too.
I see their lives, their dreams, their problems, their successes, and I feel it all. I cry for them, I laugh for them, I cheer for them, I hope for them, if I were religious I would pray for them.
But most of all I care for them.
I care for them because sometimes they don’t have anyone else who can or will. I care for them even if they have all the care in the world from others. I care for them because I can’t help it. I think about them at odd times of the day, wondering how they’re doing, hoping they’re ok and making good choices.
I imagine their older selves going out into the world as young adults, living fulfilling and happy lives. I talk about their work with the other teachers, finding out better ways to help them. I spend my time making half-decent (and hopefully better) lessons for them so that hopefully they will learn some of the content and take an interest in science. I go home and tell my husband all about them, rage about how much they frustrate me, cry about their failures and hard lives, and bounce around excited when they do well.
Some of them are the loveliest people you will ever meet, with loving parents and bright futures. Some of them are also the loveliest people you will ever meet, but don’t have the privileges that other kids do. Some of them hate your guts, others love you to pieces. Some of them want your help, some of them can’t ask for your help, some of them throw your help back in your face with some colourful language. But it doesn’t even matter.
They are my kids. If I have ever taught them, they are mine. I don’t care who else they belong to, but once they’re mine, they’re mine. Even when they or I change schools, even when they go off the rails, even when they graduate, they are mine. And I remember them.
And I care for them.