I had a student today write a letter to the executive principal in response to finding out about my job and the loss of it. I can’t even begin to express how humbling it was to hear the way in which this child has come to regard and respect his teachers. He pointed out in his letter that over the course of the week he spends more time with his teachers than his family. He calculated the average cost of a teacher’s salary and compared that to what he thought was the value of his education. He discussed in depth the hours that he thinks teachers put into their careers, and more importantly the hours they put into their students. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to dance. I wanted the principal to listen to him.
Unfortunately, I know that his opinion does not matter. I know that what he values and what helps him learn won’t count. I know that money is more important than learning, and that even though the school professes to want what’s best for the students what they really want is what is best for their pocketbooks.
I wish that things were different. I wish that I could look my student in the eyes and tell him that what he thinks and feels will make a difference. I wish I could tell him that his ambition and passion would open eyes and help the community to see that there were mistakes being made.
So I praised his writing ability and his effort. I told him to express himself, to stand up for what he believes in. I told him I was proud of him and that I could see him going great places. I encouraged him to submit his letter to the paper, to give it to the principal and to shout his ideas from the roof tops. I told him to prepare for failure and disappointment…. I told him I was proud of him, and I am honored to be part of what makes him such a great kid.
And then I cried my ever-loving heart out. The moment the door to my classroom closed I completely lost. my. shit. I am a good teacher. I love my students and this is so unfair.