Posted by Megan Allen on Tuesday, 06/17/2014
Today especially, I thought we could use a big ole' dose of hope, straight from the halls of teacher prep (especially after a report dogging teacher education). I have spent this past year working with pre-service teachers at Mount Holyoke College, and I am overflowing with hope for tomorrow's classrooms. These young women are blossoming leaders, life changers, hard workers, problem solvers, and thinkers. They are the future of our public schools: they are inspiration in human form. I have a renewed excitement for the future of public education, for if it lays in their hands, if these are the teachers that lead the charge in and out of the classroom, we are in good hands.
Below is a letter from a budding young (almost) educator as she reflects on her view of the PreK-12 classroom from teacher prep. I'm pretty darn proud of her and the rest of our MHC future educators. So proud, Jenny!
Dear readers and teachers,
The more I analyze and study the classroom, the more I am wow-ed. The more I gain perspective into the learning process and the roles you play, the more often I end up fascinating-ly confused.
The teaching profession doesn't make sense. You don't make sense. At college I dipped in and out of departments ranging from biology to sociology. Many here were worried about landing only the most high paying, whether it be surgeons, lawyers. Then I discovered the education department. While many if not most jobs these days strive for materialistic and worldly goods, you strive for just the opposite.
You live entirely by faith. Learning in the classroom is not about the answers but the process of learning how to ask the question. You know better than to treat numbers and test scores any better than you would a plastic spork while eating a steak. It is more complex than that. You and your students are not lines that can be drawn on the next standardized assessment progress chart. There's a relationship between you and them - an unpredictable layer, peeling and fluctuating throughout the year and beyond. You know that it's the battery of enthusiasm that charges curiosity and insatiable growth, so you invest all your might into not modeling enthusiasm, but being the enthusiasm in what you teach. And it's sacrifice. You put your learners before yourself. You go above and beyond the 9 to 5 even though each and every day, there is not the slightest guarantee that your learners walk away with anything worthwhile. You greet them with love, grace, forgiveness as if they were your own. Love is not about being soft and easy. You make your learners work, discipline them, because you want the best for them. Whether it sprouts now, later, or never, always you faithfully plant that seed. Incredible, selfless, faith.
Everyone these days talk about independence. Be unique, stand out from the crowd, be an individual. Almost to the point where it's isolating. You smirk; snowflakes are born different, no matter what. It's just about discovering and bringing out the unique angles, frosted texture. While others are busy trying to break, compress to find their own shape. You know better in that, you never know how different a snowflake is until you look at the others. You never forget community. Learning is community.
You know what strikes me the most about this profession? It strikes me how at the end of it all, the classroom and your learners call you to be human. We are probably the most human we can be when we are infants. Really, apart from eating infinite numbers of canned baby food and ceaseless pooping, an infant's purpose to living is merely to be there and be insatiable-y curious about the world they are placed in. They don't care about where their learning takes them. They are just bug-eyed and left grappling for more. And the best part of this - sheer excitement and toothless joy. Isn't that what we are trying to strive for in the classroom? You are the salmon that swim against the current. Growing up is important too, but in order to do so we must never forget where we started.
So hello fellow blog readers. Many of you if not all of you are probably those game changers in the classroom -teacherpreneurs and leaders. Wanted to write this to affirm you and uplift what you are doing; it is not unnoticed. Keep being fearless of fluidity; keep looking inwards to root deeply into what you believe. Prospectives out there! I am in the same boat as you are. Lead learning seems as daunting as standing next to the empire state and it probably is! But hey, I think it will be worth it. What do you say?
Jenny is a rising (here comes the taboo word) senior at Mount Holyoke College. Grew up in San Diego, CA and Seoul, Korea. Always thirsty for word play and sporadic writing. Believes in the power of radically, weird thinking for ultimate change.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Frenette