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Why I Love Teaching
posted by: Tamia | February 20, 2020, 04:55 PM   

Our guest blog today is by Leah Michaels, an educatotor from Maryland.

At the 2019 NCTE Conference in November, I heard author Tonya Bolden say, "When children know you love them, you can teach them anything," and I’ve thought about her speech almost daily since then. I #LoveTeaching because I love children, and have been inspired, especially in difficult moments at work, to ask myself to what extent my students feel loved in my classroom. Every day, teachers have a chance to show their students some love.


The other day, a student stopped by to see me during lunch. She had missed turning in a few assignments during the marking period. By the end of the semester, I had to finalize my grades by filling in those empty spaces with zeros. A highly gifted student, she had still earned a B overall. The first thing she said was, “I’m not here about my grade,” before her eyes began welling up with tears. “My parents just want a good future for me,” she continued, “and they want perfect grades, but I have so many extra-curriculars I couldn’t handle it all.” By this point, she was crying, and my own eyes were watering too. We talked for a few minutes about goals for this marking period: she will let me know if she’s struggling; I will make a point of checking in with her one-on-one more intentionally and regularly.


Only days before, I had another student crying in my office: “I just don’t want you to think I don’t care about your class; I’m so sorry I haven’t been turning my work in on time.” What an opportunity to acknowledge my own challenges and assure them I am not judging them when they miss a due date! For my part, I know I could have responded to my students’ work more effectively this semester, or been quicker to notice a struggling student.


My daughter made me a drawing to bring to work, which included a quotation she saw somewhere (and which I’ve seen attributed to Paulo Coelho): “Be gentle with yourself. You are doing the best you can.” I love teaching because I get the chance to be that trusted adult, who, when a student comes to me, stressed, sad, or overwhelmed, can share that message, which meant so much to me coming from my daughter. It’s the season of high school juniors trying to get a summer job, an internship, choose a college or next step after high school, and it’s hard! But it’s true - we are all doing the best we can.


Being a teacher is such an optimistic, hopeful, joyful experience. I love teaching because every day, no matter how challenging, brings a chance to extend grace and understanding to my students.


Leah Michaels, NBCT

English Department Chair, Richard Montgomery High School, Rockville, MD.

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