Teaching is tough.
Teaching is hard.
Being a teacher is the best job I could ever have.
The first week of classes has been one of the most difficult in my short career. I have classes with too many students and not enough desks, which is causing major frustration for both myself and students. I have been overwhelmed by administrative paperwork that has kept me from individualizing and assessing my new students work. In a nutshell, it has been a tough, hectic, and exhausting first week of the school year.
However, teaching seems to be one of those rare jobs that can give you highs and lows all in the same day. In the midst of juggling everything that was thrown at me last week, I was able to experience the first real learning moment of the year. In my overcrowded grade 10 social studies class I have had difficulty creating a learning environment that is going to work in the small space I have. After rearranging the desks and chairs and creating alternative work spaces outside the classroom, I was still struggling with how I can give these students the best learning experience possible. I only have 3 computers in my room and other resources are quite limited (I should mention I work at a non-profit school for at-risk youth). I felt like I was paralyzed with the lack of options and resources I had in order to teach such a large group. What I forgot is that I don't necessarily need the technological advantages that students are usually drawn to. All I needed was a beat.
During a discussion in class about the advantages and disadvantages of globalization, I played the song "Globalization" by Dead Prez. As soon as the beat dropped the students became completely quiet. They followed along with the lyrics and I watched as their heads started to bop up and down and side to side with the rhythm of the beat. After the song was complete, I had one of the best dialogue's with students about the realities of the world, globalization, and what students could to improve their own lives and the world around them. Students who hadn't spoke up in any previous class started to speak their minds and students even began writing their own thoughts down in rhymes before I asked them to do so. It was a spectacular class that lifted the fog of what had been a difficult weak.
It made me think about the struggles of being a teacher. Dealing with the lack of support, funding, resources, and overwhelmed by large class sizes and the dreaded "paper work". Having that great moment at the end of the week reminded me that teaching is a lifelong dedication to always be improving and to always fight to create the learning experience that your students need. The same dedication that I hope to bring to my classroom also needs to be brought outside of it to fight against a system that often neglects my students.
The life of a teacher is filled with ups and downs and many struggles with students, administration, and government. However, if we can capture those moments of pure learning with our students, they will fuel our fire to continue the necessary and important work of creating a learning environment that will empower all students who cross our paths. It is my hope that the lifelong dedication of teachers will be realized by all who are involved in education to offer the appropriate support to improve the learning environment for both teachers and students.
Dead Prez - Globalization