When everything and everyone else in the system fails, it’s the educators who pick up the pieces. Every. Single. Time.
I grew up in an extended family of educators, public school teachers from 2nd through high school. My niece teaches middle school. My brother and his wife teach at university. My cousins teach elementary school and my sister-in-law special needs. Now my daughter teaches 4th grade. It’s this last one that finally opened my eyes. I tend to come late to the party. But better late than never.
For the most part, my experience with teachers has been positive, sometimes great, and just once, truly awful. I respect teachers. I currently work in a job that allows me to work to financially support education for public school students and those who have chosen to dedicate their lives to teaching them. But I know that if I didn’t do my job well, the educators would likely find a way to make things work. And I know that when administrators don’t do their jobs well, the educators find a way to make things work. And when the public criticizes and the politicians revise budgets, the educators find a way to make things work. Because that is what they do. They take an otherwise impossible situation and make decisions that allow them to do the best they can by their students. Usually at great cost to themselves.
Every day, my daughter and I talk on her drive home from work. Some days she’s angry. Some days she’s annoyed. Some days she’s frustrated. She always finds humor, and some days are good days. Almost all days include sadness, some, like today, to the point of tears. Her kids come from trauma unimaginable to most of us and their trauma becomes hers. How could it not when she cares so deeply? When the supports they need don’t really exist. When already traumatized children are having to practice hiding from an armed intruder when they’ve already experienced violence.
Our system (the American system) fails its students. It fails them personally, emotionally, intellectually, psychologically and physically. Our system fails. The people in charge (way above the school level) fail our students in great part because the system and the powers that be fail our teachers. In my humble opinion, students who succeed do so in spite of the system and because of the educators who fill in where everyone and everything else has failed. And that success looks different on different kids, so teachers get criticized and belittled. They become the scapegoat of a system that needs a scapegoat.
I hear people criticizing public school teachers, accusing them of indoctrinating students to some sort of political agenda. I wonder if any of those people have been in a classroom, met a teacher, or spent an afternoon with a roomful of 10 year olds.
These days, my daughter is my idol, she and my niece and all of those people who spend their days in classrooms (and in alternative classrooms), teaching, caring, listening to, protecting and raising up our kids.
Again, when everything and everyone else in the system fails, it’s the educators who pick up the pieces.