Being a teacher is interesting. I had begun getting frustrated with how poorly we pay teachers - especially good teachers. Good teachers are worth at least double their salary, and poor teachers about half. But Adam says we are public servants. What that means to me is that less of our reward is in the paycheck and more of it lies in seeing others meet challenges, seeing them succeed. And that's true.
I've never gotten emotional over a paycheck.
But I HAVE gotten emotional over seeing my students rise to the occasion. In my seven years of teaching, I have seen a number of students hit a wall. Frustration mounting. And suddenly, they pop up over the top of the wall. That feeling of success does not go away. That is lasting. I would hope that those experiences stick with my students in a way that it begins to define them. I want them to know that a challenge is a regular, expected life event and that each time they come up against a challenge, hard work and perseverance will win. And that they would begin to define their lives as successful, growing people.
I began storing these tales of success in my memory. Stacking each story next to the one before. But they are beginning to moosh together. So here is success story number one:
I have a student who struggles in reading. She was scoring about a year and a half behind her grade level. Sometimes there is a quick fix for academic issues. But sometimes these issues respond to obscure solutions... and finding that solution is like finding a needle in a haystack. I hoped that something would click with her, and it appeared like it had. So, I gave her an assessment. Her assessment showed no growth from the previous year. How could this be? NO growth? We had been working so hard. I began to feel ineffective and hopeless. I can only imagine what she must have been feeling. I didn't want to believe that no growth had taken place, so I administered the tests again, this time having her use the strategies we used in our reading group. She FLEW through it. Not just with partial success but with full, bold, torrential success. I took the assessments to her classroom teacher and I could barely manage to show the results without getting choked up. Something WORKED. And it isn't just working on assessments, it's working in her LIFE. And that is what matters. A shining beam of success to motivate her to not give up. Glorious.
And that's why I love my job.