Dedicated to moments I’ve lived and to teachers I’ve known. Keep fighting.
What does it mean for a teacher’s dream to be deferred and why is the result disenchantment? And why is that even important? As a teacher, you are spoon fed what is considered high quality, often unachievable, teaching. Warm up. Introduction of material. Practice of material. Student led activity showing mastery of subject. Ticket out the door. (Personally, to be honest, it’s always the ticket out the door that trips me up.)
These standards are reinforced in graduate programs around the country and then put into practice in the classroom when it comes time for reviews and observations. But what graduate school doesn’t tell you is that the real world isn’t like your grad school text book. There are a myriad of variables to consider on a day to day, minute to minute basis. Combine that with the often abandoned subject of classroom management, all you are left with are a pocket full of rose-colored school day memories of how wonderful children used to behave and how excellent the education system used to be. All of this produces a skewed anticipation of what the classroom should be like, thus producing a dream ripe and ready to be deferred.
Fast forward a few years. Your pocket full of hopes and dreams have dried up and what you thought classroom life would be like is nothing like what you’ve anticipated. Overtime, a hardened exterior forms and a teacher has either two options: to deal with the cards they have been dealt and to become effective or to wade in the pool of “what if’s” and “should of,” and become less effective; though each teacher may not know that they are making that choice. This is the result of disenchantment. A happy teacher generally walks down the path of effectiveness, constantly grasping at ways to improve the classroom climate and efficacy, while the other teacher grows cantankerous and less productive.
“Overtime, a hardened exterior forms and a teacher has either two options: to deal with the cards they have been dealt and to become effective or to wade in the pool of “what if’s” and “should of,” and become less effective; though each teacher may not know that they are making that choice. This is the result of disenchantment.“
What does this lead to in the classroom? Often I’ve observed an overemphasis on things such as order and discipline in the classrooms of teachers who have lost their dream. Now, of course, order and discipline have their place–without them, one cannot teach. But in the classroom of the teacher who has managed to clutch onto at least a part their dream or make a new one, there is vibrancy and creativity. There are fresh ideas. The room buzzes with excitement.
Which class would you want your child to be in?
How do you reclaim your dream?
I lost my dream once. When I worked online, from home, the monotony of life and lack of face to face contact put me in the dumps. I wondered: why I was a teacher? Why did I teach Spanish? Why was my life like an episode of West World? But I was able to find and reclaim my dream. I attended a summer Masters program which gave me a boost in confidence in my Spanish. I remembered why I loved Spanish so much and what joy it brought me. I became charged with the desire to bring this energy and passion to others, no matter what. Additionally, I applied for a job in a brick and mortar school and was able to return to being the effective teacher that I am today. My advice to others is this: find your why. Why did you become a teacher? Hold on to that no matter what–despite budget cuts, despite all the paperwork, despite all the extra work that goes unnoticed–hold onto that love and passion and bring it into the classroom. Put up imagery in the classroom that reminds you of your “why.” The students will notice a difference. And they will thank you for it.