"I Do Give A Damn, I’m An Educator!"
When we attend conferences to discuss the importance of our profession, I believe we give status quo dialogue and provide rote answers to questions regarding the importance of our profession. We hear, “I love my job,” or “if I had to do my life all over again, I would still choose to become an educator.” But do we, or would we really? Do I really give a damn? Look folks, I’m going to get a state retirement regardless of the quality of educators and efficiency of schools in the future. However, you will never hear me say, “to hell with all of you, I’m out!” How will YOU leave our profession? I hope you will leave it in the hands of those educators who will exceed the expectations our society believes we can achieve. In truth, I hope the principal who follows me at Copper Hills High School is better than I. I will silently celebrate when I read the social media posts which state, “a fresh new beginning under the leadership of a principal who has set a new standard. I will know then, I have done my job because “I gave a damn.”
Today, I now hear educators raising their voices above a whisper telling high school students to become teachers. Can we truly determine which students in high school would make great teachers? Yes! Students with compassion, ethics, voice, and passion for service are easily identified. Why not encourage them to become teachers? What about the Valedictorian, who we assume will focus on a Doctorate Degree in a technical field of their choice? Many of our best and brightest students are looking for professions of service and helping humanity and are selecting education as their career path. Why would we assume they are destined to be “better than a teacher”? Maybe we should begin, philosophically, to believe there is no profession greater than being a teacher. We are only now beginning to see educators telling students, parents and anyone who will listen, that our profession is rewarding and valid.
As principal, I am now seeing some of the fruit from seeds planted years ago as high school students rise from the earth and return to fill our shoes as teachers. Did I lie to them? Did I break the law (bait and switch) by baiting students into our profession, and then do I worry that I may get called out when they learn how difficult being a teacher can be? We need to get the best students back into our schools as teachers. Help them make the career choice for the right reason and support them when they get there.
What is our RTI (Response To Intervention) for assisting teachers? I personally will commit to begin doing more. Why? The answer is simple. It’s the future of our profession; we need to be concerned. I have 27 years in this profession, therefore, I will make it to the end of my experience knowing the majority of our teachers are focused on student learning and building relationships which foster success. I would love to leave the profession better than I found it. I fear, quite the opposite.
Recently I attended a school’s teacher union meeting, where a teacher informed the rest of the teaching staff that he got into the profession for two reasons, “summers off and insurance benefits.” What I heard in the undertone of his comment was, “I, the teacher, was lied to. This profession isn’t what I wanted as a career and I’m not happy.” I am happy with MY choice. I am writing my reasons for becoming an educator in black and white so you know I truly believe what I am doing with my career choice is personally valuable. It’s easy to say, “I love my job,” but committing to prove it is my challenge. I implore each of you to look toward the future. Our state, nation, and world depends on the teachers of the future. I Do Give A Damn, I’m An Educator!