Monday, July 12, 2010

Leave No Child Behind...

I am a teacher. I teach for a living. This was not always the case.

I remember the years working to attain that baccalaureate in Education. Learning to understand the mechanics of language. Appreciating the masters of literature. Stepping out of my comfort zone participating and not just observing in drama class. Dealing with my “fear” of machines when I had to produce educational media. LOL!

I remember coming home with that fancy piece of paper after my commencement. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, anxious about my new chapter. I was to enter the workforce. Lil’ ol’ me…actually contributing to society. How exciting!

I arrive for my first day of work. WHAM! I run into a door marked, “Bureaucracy & Administration”. Turns out my new boss did not need my expertise. Whoop dee doo! I guess someone was sleeping on the job the day they matched supply with demand.

I’ll spare you the painful details but my light for teaching was almost completely snuffed out within two years. I quit. I found other passions, tried new career paths.

Fast forward 14 years. Supernatural forces returned me to the teaching profession. I kid you not about the supernatural part but that’s a whole other blogpost :-)

This time around, I see a similar door – Bureaucracy & Administration. Oh, did I mention some Politics are always involved? But…but…this time around, I am not only allowed, I am even encouraged to put into practice all that I had learned from the hallowed halls of my beloved McGill. This time around, I was given the freedom to soar, as I knew I could. And soar I did. In fact, I am still flying high, oh yeah baby!

Don’t get me wrong. Those big, bad B, A, and P-words still exist. (Darn it!) There is a subtle difference, however, in the mentality or attitude of those running the school. Now, there is an understanding that what makes the school great is not simply its name or reputation. There is understanding that the school is great because of the remarkable people who thrive within its walls.

A school is great when educators are allowed to educate instead of administrate (yes, the word exists in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, so bite me! Haha!) A school is great when the students do more than passively accept what is taught, and instead, actively think outside the box! A school is great when both teachers and students understand that there is a big and awesome world outside the classroom and there is a real and urgent need to bridge the world and the classroom.

A school is great when kids graduate as mini citizens of the world, kids who are individuals capable of thinking and evaluating on their own, young people who are not fettered by narrow-minded societal norms that state children are too young to make a difference.

Philosophies of education come and go. One that has stayed close to my heart over the years is, “Leave no child behind”. And so, I pour out my mind, strength, heart and soul into what I do everyday.

As I journey deeper into this season called “middle age”, there are occasions when I wish I was more influential, that I had more letters to follow my name or a more important title to precede my name. In the end, the following keeps me grounded – for most of my students, I would be a fixed part of their lives for seven (7) whole years. I can choose to be an inspirational adult in their lives or a mediocre one. I can choose to light a fire, fan the flame or simply open a textbook with no additional creativity. Plutarch said, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” If mine is not a job with power and influence, I do not  know what is....

After all is said and done, I absolutely love what Ivan Welton Fitzwater said:

I am a teacher! What I do and say are being absorbed by young minds who will echo these images across the ages. My lessons will be immortal, affecting people yet unborn, people I will never see or know. The future of the world is in my classroom today, a future with the potential for good or bad. The pliable minds of tomorrow's leaders will be molded either artistically or grotesquely by what I do.

Several future presidents are learning from me today; so are the great writers of the next decades, and so are all the so-called ordinary people who will make the decisions in a democracy. I must never forget these same young people could be the thieves or murderers of the future.

Only a teacher? Thank God I have a calling to the greatest profession of all! I must be vigilant every day lest I lose one fragile opportunity to improve tomorrow.

‘Nuff said! Dreamer, signing off.