Photo by Lauren Lu
I stare out into the classroom with just 15 desks full of bright-eyed learners ready to embark upon today’s lesson with enthusiasm, determination and talent. I gather my thoughts and launch into the most interesting presentation full of witticism, energy and brilliance. At the end of the class, the students jump to their feet in uncontrollable sustained applause as I deeply bow in gratitude. The students and I exit the classroom together unencumbered by homework or grading as my exhilarating performance and their understanding of my ideas is all that will be needed in life.
At the end of the class, the students jump to their feet in uncontrollable sustained applause as I deeply bow in gratitude.
Alright, enough with the jokes. This is not my vision nor my reality. My true vision is obscured by the countless number of desks cluttering my room, concealed by the stacks of timed in-class essays to grade, hidden by the bureaucracy of another school year. But, my dear students, it is the desire of this teacher to alter that vision as best as I can. To wade through the mire of requirements associated with being a teacher and actually see the faces of my students sitting in those countless number of desks. My vision cannot continue to be clouded by that which I cannot control; that which is required, but must be saved by the little bit of teaching I can control: my association with you, the students. Too often what I focus on is the negative, and in a high school there is no shortage of negative. What students experience every day in the halls and classrooms reflects directly on the teachers, whether you want it to or not. So, inadvertently, we share most of what you feel. Add that to what we, as adults, are already undergoing, and it’s no wonder the turnover rate for teachers is so high. According to The Hechinger Report, almost half of teachers with five years of experience or less quit the profession. I remember walking these exact halls (well not exact. The library used to be where the studio theatre is now) as a high school student. I can barely remember who I had as my teachers. That is not a reflection of the type of teachers I had, but more a statement about the type of student I was. I had no time to get to know my teachers; I was too engrossed in the incredibly hard job of being a teenager–an annoying, snotty teenager (I can say that now about myself).
Photo by Lauren Lu
As hard as a teacher attempts to see you among the innumerable faces, if you do not meet my eyes at least once, nothing will ever change for you or me. Even though it is far too easy to become metaphorically blinded as an educator, know that as a profession, we fight that blindness as best we can to acknowledge you if you can conversely acknowledge us. Just try and remember that as cloudy as your vision of the classroom is, sometimes your teacher’s vision is worse.
Amanda Richmond, English teacher, wrote this column. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the Acumen or the Acumen staff. You may reach Mrs. Richmond at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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