Be The Change…

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 15 2011

I teach for…..

When I first got to Induction and Institute and I kept hearing so many people saying “I teach for student X, Y, or Z” and then they tell you a story about that student. At first those stories were great, then they just got annoying. I could only listen to stories for so long before I just really didn’t care.

Well, now that I am a teacher I can understand those stories. Those stories, about those students in particular, are the motivation to get myself out of bed. I’ve yet to take a sick day, personal day, or anything of the like. I just keep going in and teaching and to be honest, I’m tired. Dead tired. But, it is these students who keep me going back:

L – I teach for L, a lot. When I plan my lessons, I think of whether L would like them or not. When I execute my lesson, I make sure L is paying attention. Why? Because L comes with a 504 and a lot of energy, and low grades in other classes. But in my class, L hangs on my every word. L challenges himself to try to keep up with the native Spanish speakers in my room. All in all, when I consider whether I really want to go to school or not – It’s L who gets me up.

S – I teach for S. I teach for S because S pushes me to think outside the box. I have been taking S from study hall to tutor him and on Thursday I had an idea that maybe to help cement the colors and numbers I would play Uno with him and the other student I tutor. Well, it worked. S came up to me at the end of his class (I tutor him 1st and teach him 7th) and he asked if Uno came in more colors because it REALLY helped him remember the numbers and colors. He then proceeded to list the colors and numbers. I teach for S because when I talked to his mom, he said that he was really afraid of taking Spanish and now he really enjoys it.

B – I teach for B. I teach for B because B is such a genuine young person and understands how much schooling will affect his life. Now, in the district I teach in – college is usually mentioned but hardly every pushed. So, the more I get to know each student I often ask them what exactly their future plans are (since I teach mostly 9th grade – often this is a blurry idea but interesting nonetheless). Well, B wants to go to med school. B is struggling in science, but said that he’s going to start using the methods to study that I taught him for foreign language (flash cards and repeating the word over and over to yourself). It’s helping him, and he stays after school once or twice a week for an hour or two and we study, prep for our weekly quiz in Spanish and any other exam he has, and chat about life. I teach for B because he told me the only way he will take Spanish II is if I teach it because he knows that I care if he learns.

G – Lastly, is G. I teach for G. That’s an understatement, I push myself to be a better person for G. For the first few weeks of school, G was just the student in the front of the room who often raised his hand but really didn’t do anything spectacular. Somewhere along the line, that changed and G has become a huge part of my life. G comes to visit me almost every morning before school and I love it. It helps ground me in what I do as a teacher – I teach, I advise, I share, I care, I counsel, I love, and I push. With G, I do all of those things. Honestly, sometimes it feels like G has become like a younger brother to me because I spend so much time teaching him content but also pushing him to be the best person he can be in all ways. I have only missed one of his football games and I really love going to see them. When push comes to shove, G is the reason I walk back in those doors every morning. If I expect G to give 100% in my room, then I have to give 100% to G.

Now, to sum it up – there are plenty other students I teach and love. I teach for C and E, for L, and A, and M, B, and C. And those are just to name the surface ones. What I do know about my job is this: the positive energy, the amazing amount of learning and growth, and the awesome personalities of my students outweigh the every increasing workload, constant stress and pressure, and just overworked attitude of teach.

As we said at my institute school this summer: I work for kids.

One Response

  1. Tricia Sommerfeld

    This is incredible! We have been learning about catering lessons to your students’ needs and this is a perfect example of that. Do you use technology with your students (whether IT or AT)?

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A small town person with big world dreams


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