What My College Professors Forgot to Teach Me: The Sad Truths Behind Teaching

When I first set out to begin my life as a teacher I had all these ideas of what teaching would be like. I sat there listening to my professors preach their beliefs and philosophies about teaching reading, writing and math. They talked about making lessons meaningful and engaging.  My reading professor bashed the reading basals and phonics and spoke only about Whole Language.  They made sure I could write the perfect 5-step lesson plan following Madeline Hunter's.   format. On paper, I was prepared. Never, however, did they prepare me for the real classroom experience.
The truth about teaching: What they forgot to teach me in college
I do not think one can be prepared for every single classroom experience, but I do think there could have been some warnings, some trainings, something to help prepare me for the experiences I have had to go through these past 25 years.   The only training I did have was about the child abuse. What they fail to leave out is the emotional mark it can leave on you as a teacher. Those students take a piece of your heart with you. My very first year of teaching I had a student who witnessed his father abusing the step mother repeatedly.  The child was angry and physical in class, he would overturn tables and throw chairs at me.    I was not prepared for this. My college professors did not prepare me to handle these types of situations. This is one of the sad truths behind teaching.

Another sad truth is when you experience the death of a student.  This past week I attended the funerals of two of our students. They were sisters who died in a tragic car accident. Again, my college professors did not prepare me to handle these types of situations.  Something this devastating was never even discussed. Although one can never be truly prepared, I do think, there could have been something said, there could have been a class- the truth about teaching.   I know when you think of teaching you think of happiness and joy and making a difference in the lives of children.  What you don't think of is all the bad, sad things that come with our job.  Sadly, this isn't the first funeral of students I have attended.  One can only hope it will be the last.

When I said I wanted to be a teacher, my college professors never told me being a teacher would require me to be so much more and to give so much more of myself.  In the past 25 years as a teacher I have been known to wash clothes, brush hair, provide toothbrush/toothpaste,  provide snacks/lunch, help find housing, help find daycare, get counseling for students, get kids sponsored for sports, help parents find jobs, help with emergency dental and more that I can't think of off the top of my head. None of these require me to teach children,but my kids need all of these things to be successful before they can even begin to learn.

My college professors left out some truths about being a teacher.  They only gave me the philosophy and the textbook version.  They neglected to tell me it could take a piece of my heart each time I lost a student, or haunt me in my dreams each time I filed a CPS report.  Perhaps they did this on purpose, or perhaps they were lucky and never had to experience these truths.

Don't get me wrong, had I known these truths, I would still be a teacher.  I love being a teaching.  I find it so rewarding when I see a students' face lights up and they exclaim "I DID IT!"   I love that I get a ton of hugs a day from past and present students.  I love that I can feel like a celebrity when I walk past the lunch tables becasue all the kids are shouting hello.

Being a teacher today isn't easy, but it is still rewarding.

No comments