Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is one of the longest words in the dictionary. Ironically, it means “a fear of long words.” Did you know that? I didn’t. Until today, when one of my 7th graders plopped a piece of paper ripped from a notebook with THAT word written on it on my desk. Then, they grinned.
Ya’ll, THIS. This is why we teach.
Those moments of silliness amidst the chaos of students trying to navigate this world. Those moments you can make eye contact with a child who has gone out of their way to find an ironic and quite ridiculous word… just to share a joke with you. These are the moments that make me fall in love with this career over and over again. These are the students that make me look forward to going to work.
I have never touched on why I decided to become a teacher, long ago. Partially due to an obsession with fantasy novels and creative writing, I voiced my desire to become an author in front of my grandfather. He nodded politely, as most people of his generation were horrified by anyone getting a degree in “English”. Yet, I’ll never forget what he said to me when I told him, “I’d love to teach English.”
He said, “Don’t you ever give up on the bad kid. The kid that acts tough. The kid that doesn’t care. The kid that wants to drop out. Don’t ever give up on them. My teachers gave up on me – they thought I didn’t care about my future. But if any one of them had stopped me, showed that they actually cared, I might have stayed in school.”
To this day, those words still ring in my ears. Some days are tougher than others, and some students are tougher still. Yet, I stay true to what my grandfather asked – no matter what happens in my classroom, the next day they get a fresh slate. You messed up, kid. Try again. Going to act out again today? Take your leave, I’ll see you tomorrow. Maybe we’ll get it right then. And you better believe I let them all know, they’re loved. Sometimes that looks like tough love, but my students need a mentor more than they’ll ever need a cheerleader. Do you know that many of my students who I was “tough” on came back to thank me later? Food for thought.
I’ve been teaching for a little under a decade, and it’s been a little over a year since I began this teaching blog. It was always my hope to reach educators like you who wanted to try teaching content in a way that could reach all students. Over the last year, I’ve learned so many neat ways to create resources that snag these kids, suck them right in and get them LEARNING without them even realizing it. That’s the magic of teaching.
I am so very grateful to all of you for taking this journey with me. To those of you who have purchased my resources and share your experiences with me – thank you. You have no idea how much those photos and comments make me smile! There is nothing more worthwhile to a teacher than to know their hard work and dedication is being appreciated and loved.
To those of you who tag along for the blog posts that I send out haphazardly – thank you. It’s nice to know that somewhere out there, someone may be reading these words and using them to bolster their courage to face another day in this amazingly complex career.
I hope you all stick around for another year with me. Cheers – here’s to showing up as the best version of ourselves for all of 2020.