Inspiration often comes from struggle. There I was at the end of the first trimester in my third year of teaching when I heard the news. The news that my kindergarten class would be dispersed because my class was under enrolled. Then I got another blast. I would be moving to second grade! Here it was mid-year, I had formed bonds with my kinders and their families, and I had to say goodbye to all of them. Then move my classroom AND begin the bonding of an entirely new class at an entirely new grade level that I had never taught before.
Then I started hearing “stories” about my new class. It was no wonder the teacher of this class volunteered to be transferred to another school as a result of our school being over-staffed. There were so many stories about this class already and none of them good. People described to me all of the behavior problems, the talking back, and the disrespect.
Needless to say I was a bit nervous about all the change mid-year.
But when I walked in the “that” second grade classroom on the first day of the second trimester, I saw the class that needed me the most. I didn’t see “troublemakers” and “disrespect.” I saw a group of students who needed to be loved, encouraged, and respected as learners. I saw students who came from extraordinarily difficult backgrounds and students who had experienced more sadness in their short lifetimes than me.
It was this class where I learned the most. It was this class where I was inspired to be more than “just a teacher.” My classroom became a place where parents could come and feel safe from their abusive husbands for the day. My classroom became a place where students who just lost a parent had a shoulder to cry on. My classroom became a place where students were challenged to rise above what other people thought of them. I even became a bus driver to a student who was scared of coming to school. I cried with my students when one of our classmates was abducted. I made phone call after phone call advocating for neglected and abused children.
This class didn’t need a teacher who would put their fist down on the desk and demand attention. This class needed love, patience, and someone who believed in them. It was this year of teaching and this class where I was inspired to not only be the best teacher for my students, but also a dedicated advocate for children.