What a title. It is the truth too. When going into teaching or whatever sphere you are in, every audience is not for you. Everybody cannot reach 3rd grade the way an awesome 3rd grade teacher can. Kindergarten teachers are simply called to do what they do.
When I tell people I teach middle school, their face turns to shock, fear, and disgust (I am literally laughing while typing this). However, I absolutely love it (on most days) but I can easily see why others are intimidated. Right now, teachers are reassessing their year and deciding what to do for next year. Beginning teachers are deciding what grade will be their banner grade. Here are a few power points as to why everybody is not called to teach everybody and how understanding this can keep you in the classroom past two weeks.
First, The Exceptions and My Senior English Teacher:
Now, there are exceptions to this. Every year is not perfection, and I make no apologies for saying this—students are not going to like every teacher. I call it learning the art of “get over it.” Some of my own best teachers were not the ones I dreamed of. But they were what was best for me at that time. One of the teachers I despised the most became one of my inspirations for going into teaching.
My twelfth grade English teacher, Mrs. Campbell, had us write a paper at the beginning of the year. I started my senior year at 16. I almost died my junior year and had been in the hospital for a month. I was a miracle and not just survived but thrived. There was no stopping me. But at the tender age of 16, needless to say, I was still a little wet behind the ears. I knew I had aced that essay so when she passed it back, I lifted my head with a subtle, haughty expectation. She placed the essay on my desk. I was in shock—it had marks all over it. I looked at her, she looked at me, I looked at the paper, then looked back at her. She looked at the paper, then looked at me and said quietly but sternly “Girl, I’m not taking that mess.” Then had the audacity to swing her blonde bob around and swiftly walk off. I rolled my eyes so hard I almost had to reach in my purse and take Advil. I remember literally thinking “uh, lady, you don’t know me like that!” I even contemplated a schedule change. I never went too far because my mama and daddy did not play. I had wonderful parents as a teen who were hilarious, but “acting a fool at school” was a complete nonnegotiable behavior in our house. Being the oldest of three kids, I knew I needed to set some type of positive example for my brother and sister besides going to the assistant principal’s office over a marked-up essay.
Thinking back to that September day, I realized that she probably saw something in me. I think she knew what she was doing. She pushed and challenged me. By midyear, I was acing difficult exams and assignments and went on to make literally 102s on literature unit tests. She literally ended up being one of the coolest, strongest teachers I ever had (she was one of the best at the high school and was hilarious) and was one of my inspirations for eventually majoring in English in college and becoming a teacher. To this day, I even model some of my teaching personality after her. I challenge my students and speak the truth. I set high expectations but you better believe I will help you get there—but I will not wallow and stay down at the bottom with you. My high expectations will remain because you CAN do it.
Some students, parents, and other people want you to pity them and cannot except truth. I am very warm and empathetic, but like my dad once told us about a situation he was helping someone else outside of our family in, “I love you, but I am not tripping with you.” I also do not play because your future is at stake.
Thank you Mrs. Campbell for who you were and pushing that quiet girl with the strong personality.’)
The Grade You Teach Needs To Compliment Your Personality:
For example, there was a church that had an enormous, fun, and successful children’s ministry. They had openings and applications for new Children’s Ministry coordinators and teachers. One gentleman eagerly fulfilled the call. Without hesitation, they placed this man with kindergarten. He gleefully complied and prepared his first lesson. On Sunday morning, the kindergartners sat eagerly awaiting his lesson. When he spoke about the scripture in Proverbs that spoke “life and death are in the power of the tongue,” he pulled out an entire cow’s tongue from the local food market to further illustrate. The kids screamed. He was horrified at their response. Kindergarten was not his jam.
Finally, with more wisdom the second time around, they placed this man with seventh grade. This man hesitantly gave the same lesson. THIS time, when he shared his “special” illustration, the seventh graders roared in complete excitement. Needless to say, seventh grade was officially his jam.
Additionally, when I was in college, to prepare for working with kids, I interviewed at a summer daycare in my hometown. The daycare seemed really nice and respected. I SO wanted to work with the 5th and 6th graders but they were already staffed for them. The owner assigned me to the 2-year old classroom. “Woo chile”. Not only 2-year olds, but SIXTEEN at that. They were absolutely adorable. Now imagine putting all of them to sleep at naptime. It was like herding kittens–not to mention we had a serial biter in the midst. People would quit left and right and I wanted to leave right with them. The assistant that was with me was not very reliable to be honest and was out quite a bit. However, not being one to walk out, I stayed until my summer assignment was up.
Yes, I tried to see the positive in every situation. During my break, sometimes I got to help in the nursery and hold babies who were so precious. One of my two’s did not have an ideal home situation so she would cling to me before naptime and sleep. I also had to change every diaper before their parents came. You never give them back to their families dirty. So, I would make them laugh and talk to them while cleaning them up and changing those very, messy diapers. I learned to have joy in the process.
Teaching sixteen two- year- olds or even primary was not my calling, but it prepared me. When I graduated college, I was rewarded with the grade I truly wanted at that time—5th grade for my very first public school assignment. I ended up working at that school and for that principal for 7 years.
I am a firm believer you need to teach according to your personality. Sometimes for your first year, you do not get the grade you want and that is okay. Make the best of it and keep the right attitude. Usually, as soon as they see you working hard and loving those kids, and as soon as a position for the grade opens up, they put you in it.
If you get a sinking feeling in your gut about a grade, and you have the liberty to pass the assignment, PLEASE do. Every strong teacher doesn’t need to be in elementary and every quiet teacher doesn’t need to be with first grade
You Need a Passion:
School-wise, my passion is for 4th-8th grade. That was the toughest time of my childhood at school. Many students are getting bullied in addition to this time being such a confusing time. Because I understand their experience, I love these grades. They are hilarious, can hold a conversation, can rationalize to some degree, and most really do enjoy learning in addition to being the most impressionable. They have brought me so much joy and I hope I have done the same for them.
Now, what grade do you want to teach? Yes, it really is that serious. Young lives are at stake. Everybody is not called to teach everybody, every demographic, every grade etc. Teaching is a calling and not a gig to get you over until that lucrative, corporate position opens or until you hurry up and jump into administration. It’s a calling for a season or for a career span. You may teach young students, adults in a night class, or everywhere in between. Every life has value. How you treat that concept is truly reflective of your character. Choose wisely my friend.
Copyright 2020 The Educator’s Light