I Get To Do This--Thoughts From A Veteran Teacher

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

I rarely have guest bloggers, but an experienced teacher I know sent me this, and in the face of all the hostility between the Chicago Public School System and the Chicago Teacher’s Union I thought I would post it.

Full Disclosure for total transparency:

  1. The teacher, Laury Wolf, is a veteran high shcool math teacher, with experience in New York City and Chicago, but does not teach in the CPS System.
  2. She is my daughter (and that is not her picture at the top of the blog.)

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“I get to do this.”

I never thought I would be one to write a blog post, but if anything, the last two years have allowed us to try new things. Also, time, time is just different. I haven’t had time to leave our house, see friends, try new restaurants or travel. I have had time to think, and I mean really think. I lot of the things have been related to my career. I am a math teacher, and I mostly love it. I have been thinking if I move on what would that look like, what else can I do?

I grew up with a dad who was a first-generation American, understanding the importance of education. My grandparents escaped Nazi Germany and created a life in Chicago, instilling in my dad the value of learning. Throughout my years of schooling, my dad was president of our high school’s school board. My mom always encouraged me to further myself too. No matter what, you could always learn. I learned the value of education, and not just to get into a “good” college. I am very grateful for my upbringing.

            It’s hard to define what exactly drew me to teaching, but I think I liked the constant motion in the school building. Everyone has a role, responsibilities, and a general sense of purpose.  Every day was a challenge, and every day I came in determined to be better. The relationships and watching the students growing in front of me made it worth it.

As I reflect on my role as a teacher, I am amazed at the craziness of the last two years. Classes that were remote, hybrid, in person, asynchronous, on a park bench? And sometimes I question what makes this worth it.  Why do we subjugate ourselves to emails overnight, bad professional development, little sick leave, constant changes, and most importantly a lot of disrespect?

I think back to a conversation I had at a math conference a few years back. I was sitting next to what I call a baby teacher (someone who is new to the profession). The workshop was about using your own interests in the classroom. Supposedly if I create word problems about watching The Office, my students will double their engagement. The first prompt was to ask your partner why they chose to teach, the baby teacher’s response still resonates with me.

 “I get to do this”.

That’s right we are lucky as educators. Every day we get the opportunity to shape, better, and learn from the next generation. I am not sure where in education I will end up, but I know I will still be thinking.

            “I get to do this.”

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