What Have I Lost as a Teacher?

The imp in me says, ” I must have lost my mind to stay in teaching so long.  That’s what I’ve lost.”

But in a serious frame of mind; what have I lost in the twenty years I’ve been a teacher?

  1. I’ve lost the part of me that is quick to judge. There is always a reason why children do what they do. It may not be obvious at the time, so ask a few questions. My students deal with more personal issues than I ever dreamed of as a child. They have different needs. Some have not been taught how to handle their emotions. I have learned the same is true with parents of my students. As Harper Lee wrote, “Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.” I try on a lot of shoes each day.
  2. I’ve lost the desire to be right all the time. My students have taught me to say, “You know, I don’t know the answer to that question. Let’s find out.” Some of my favorite discoveries have been through the quest for those answers.
  3. I’ve lost the ability to let the important stuff go. If it involves bad behavior or the goal of the lesson, I’m not so willing to say to myself, “Well, you can’t get them all.” The trick is to press forward with compassion. (See Number 1) I work on that every day. I don’t always succeed, but I still work on it.
  4. I’ve lost the naivety that brought me into teaching. I won’t change the world, write the perfect lesson plan or help every child discover their inner artist. I can’t control the demands placed on teachers by politicians and society; demands made without sticking around to see the consequences. But I can change how I respond to those demands.
  5. What have I lost?
    I’ve lost countless hours of sleep, a little pocket money on supplies, my school keys about four thousand times, the ability to eat slowly and most of all…

I’ve lost the wish to do anything else.