In a recent series of interviews, Amy Nystrand, Program Director of the Educators’ Cooperative asked members, “What keeps you going on tough days?” Our responses from Dave Harrison, 4th Grade teacher at Gower Elementary and Allison Hardy, Chemistry teacher at Hillwood High School, remind us that it really is all about the kids. The relationships we build with them and the moments that we share make it all worthwhile.
We know that teaching is a challenge. Teachers constantly juggle multiple things, knowing that if any one thing drops, it’s the kids that ultimately suffer. And at the end of the day, we keep juggling because it’s worth it. We spend hours coming up with the right lesson plan with the right strategies, making every move intentional so that the outcome isn’t left to chance. And even with the best-made plans it sometimes feels left to chance. Students are human, they have bad days. Teachers are human – they have bad days, technology messes up, fire drills, tornado drills, active shooter drills, planning meetings reveal one more thing being added to the plate, an observation leaves them rattled, there’s an impromptu assembly. We could keep going.
But as Dave Harrison says, “At quarter to 8, it’s all kids, all the time.” And it’s those kids that make it easy to keep showing up. For 180 days, if we’re lucky, we get to bond with young souls, we get to know them and they get to know us, and relationships build. Humor develops, inside jokes are made, and something irreplaceable forms.
“The relationships I get to have with the kids, it’s unbelievable how much it sustains me,” exclaims Dave Harrison. “The thing that keeps me going is just looking forward to waking up everyday and going in and spending time with these awesome, awesome kids.”
Alison Hardy says the same. She shares a story of a time she was teary-eyed over the ending of a show. “I was just feeling a lot of things, and that my students were able to just laugh at me, but also come at it from a perspective of, “We’ve seen Ms. Hardy cry, we see that she’s a real human’.” It’s those small moments that build strong bonds, and it’s those strong bonds that keep us coming back, and also keep kids coming back, year after year, for a quick hello, a quick moment of reminiscing, feeling the energy that was shared. “I think it’s definitely the relationships with students, that’s what keeps me going, and any form of positive feedback,” Allison says. She continues, “When I get a random message from a student, I’m like wow, you don’t realize, I’m crying now.”
We show up for the kids, and while numerous things can make tough days tough, including the kids, it’s ultimately the kids that keep us going. Teaching is a passion, and at EdCo, that passion overflows.
The Educators’ Cooperative is a non-profit organization that provides a professional learning community for K-12 teachers. Created for teachers by teachers in 2016, EdCo provides professional development and support for educators to collaborate across sectors, disciplines, and career stages. EdCo aims to revolutionize teacher development and leadership by focusing on the essential agency, autonomy, and common ground all teachers share. EdCo is based in Nashville, Tennessee with a reach far beyond that physical location and potential for replication in communities throughout the nation. When educators collaborate, the future of education is greater than the sum of its parts.
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