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The Ups and Downs of Teaching

Every day I’m reminded of how, as educators, our lives continuously ebb and flow and zig and zag. We have horrible lows in which we question if we’re doing it right, if any of this is even making a difference, if this is the right profession and then we’re met with incredible highs in which our research, our teaching, our students surprise us and thrill us and show us that amazing things are happening and we could not imagine doing anything other than teaching. This week has been no different.

While I was composing this post (both in my head and then in actual written form) I had a hard time putting it all together. It was all too much to put in one post -

  • Did I need to go into detail about every little microaggression that I felt in regards to the grant I was writing and the university procedures I didn't understand and the classes that were being taken "off my plate" in order for my readers to understand what I was going through?

  • Did I need to explain that I felt hurt and grief-stricken and confused about the reasons for these events in order for my readers to feel what I was feeling?

  • Would my anxieties and annoyance come across to my readers if I explained that Career Week on campus meant that I had to take time away from teaching to allow "special guests" from hiring school districts to speak to my classes?

  • Would my readers get frustrated along with me if I relayed every word my students used while discussing the difference between sex and gender and sexuality and that in the one class I did get to teach this week one of my students explained that the best way to protect a student who was struggling with gender identity was to tell them to "just dress like a boy because you're a boy and all the other kids are going to bully and beat you up" rather than trying to create a safe space in his classroom?

Or would it be enough to just say I had a really crappy couple weeks but by the end of the week it was starting to look up?

The same student who frustrated me in class this week came to my office yesterday to apologize "about being close-minded" (his words). He told me

"I talked to my girl friend after class and she showed me how I was being hard-headed and she even pulled up some news articles showing lawsuits about gender identity kids and students who committed suicide because they were being marginalized by their schools... it's horrible, Dr. G."

And then he told me he had a job interview that afternoon.

This single event washed all of my sadness and anger and negative feelings away and allowed me to see everything clearer. The low points we may feel as teachers are really just the spaces between lessons waiting to be learned... it took a day, but my student is starting to learn something new about himself and his future students.

**SPOILER ALERT - mushy conclusion coming! **

I love my job and I love the students I get the opportunity to work with. My students (past and present) will always be my students and they are all everything to me. They keep me on my toes, they keep me on task, and they keep me honest.

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