When You Do It For the Kids

You know, at eight or ten or even two years into this you already know, if they tell you to do it for the kids, it is something you really don’t want to do. It is hard, it is complicated, you think it might be unnecessary, in the worst of scenarios you think it will hurt.

But they ask you to do it…for the kids.

So you do it. You abandon your tried and true for the new fangled thing that has been packaged and sold to your school. You go to trainings in the summer, and in-services on Saturday. You try to get on board.

After all, it is for the kids.

The kids are why you took this job. You were one of those kids once and you still remember the way the teachers who mattered made you feel. Maybe they were the first ones to ever tell you, you could write, or you were good with a language, or you had a head for numbers. Maybe those teachers were the first people who said your name like they were glad you were there. Maybe you didn’t have that at home. Maybe you were sick and they smiled and said they were glad you were back when all the other teachers grimaced and asked how soon you could have your make up work back. Maybe they saw how fast you did the multiplication tables and introduced you to trigonometry at age 9, on their lunch break because that was the only time they had.

Whatever it was, those teachers changed your life, because they did it for the kids.

It is ten, twenty, thirty years later and you still remember their name, the way they made you feel, what they taught you and how it changed the way you looked at the world.  You show up every day, every year, just to be that person, just to change the world one five, ten, fifteen year old at a time.

And now they are telling you to give these tests, adjust to these standards, implement this initiative, for the kids.

But what do you do when you think it might hurt the kids? When you realize that, in your professional opinion, the standards aren’t developmentally appropriate, the tests aren’t preparing the kids for anything but more tests, the initiatives improve the test scores but limit genuine learning opportunities. What do you do when the very things they are asking you to do, you think might hurt the kids?

What do you do for the kids you are doing this for?

So you do it. You ditch the project your students from ten years ago still mention on your Facebook page, the lesson the parents from two years ago mention when they drop the younger sibling in your class, whatever it is that you know taught your kids how to really exist in this world. You tuck it away into your file cabinet and you hope that you will find a way to pull it out next year. But right now, there just isn’t time. There is this new thing to wrangle.

You sigh and remember you are doing it for the kids.

Perhaps it is true that your students in the long-term, are being hurt by these test, these programs, these initiatives. Right now, for the kids, you need to be concerned about right now. You are teacher, and this is the only year you will have. You need to do what is right, right now. It may hurt your students in the long run to not engage the world the ways you once allowed them to, but it will hurt them next year, if they cannot pass their graduation test. Your students need to graduate.

You do what needs to be done, for the kids.

You hope that one day you will be asked what you think benefits the kids. You hope the idea that you do this for the kids is seen as something worth hearing about, rather than a barb to poke you into places you do not want to go. You show up and do what needs to be done, for the kids.

You try to remember why you became a teacher, for the kids.


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