Whatever They Need Me To Be

Jose Vilson Education, Jose

Batman, The Dark Knight

No, it’s not the same.

Mostly the same kids. Same subject. Same friendships. Same teachers in the building. Same madness in the beginning. Same school building. Same confusion as to what the heck students had on their heads and why they decided not to wear uniform if they’ve been to the school already. Same high hopes. Same uneasiness.

But it’s definitely not the same.

This year, I envision me taking better care of myself. For all intents and purposes, I felt almost useless for the last 2 weeks of last year due to circumstances I couldn’t control. Now, even with the recent teacher departures, I feel I’m more in control. As a teacher, I come into the classroom with an incredible swagger. I fully expect all eyes on me even when I’m not the one teaching. I expect quiet when I’m speaking. I expect a certain respect from everyone. When I write on the board, I expect students to be writing notes in back of me and nothing else. I expect quiet usually, and maybe just a little buzz while they’re working in groups. My gumption doesn’t come from anything except wanting to preemptively avoid 85% of classroom management problems from the onset.

and if I thoroughly believe in that persona, then that’s exactly what I’m going to get … and sometimes to a fault.

Even with all that pomp, I still find that the kids react to me just the opposite of what I’d expect. They welcome my presence, and even my slight passing by the classroom gets them overly excited rather than nervous and scared. :: snaps:: So much for that. I’m still getting kids running up to me, literally leaving their classes, and begging me to teach their class (I have little control over that). It’s a weird feeling, for as much as I want to maintain the “no smiling ’til Christmas” mantra, I also know that, much sooner than later, my students find out I care a lot about them.

So for the new teachers reading, please know:

Teaching is, more than anything, a living contradiction:

  • It’s a profession because I’m getting paid for it, and a calling because there’s something innate in true teachers that implant us in our students’ memory banks
  • I get to be mean and nice, sometimes within a span of five seconds
  • I’m fully expected to be ready with a lesson plan, but I’ll never truly be ready for what happens on the everyday.
  • Almost everyone knows what a teacher is and what they should look like, but I still have a hard time expounding on my experiences as one to anyone but people who work with youth in that capacity.
  • I teach math, but I’m a prolific writer, a music connoisseur, and an avid reader of historical non-fiction (usually on the radical side)
  • I’m expected to be a role model, but that suppression of some of my more unbridled habits (cursing comes to mind) makes me want to do it more when not in the view of children
  • I love being with the kids, but for my own mental health, I need a break because …
  • The energy I put into my profession is what comes out of me …

But that’s my job. I’m amorphous and omnipresent. I’m an overlord and proponent. I’m whatever my students need me to be. And that’s the way I like it.

jose, who has no idea what he’s gonna dress in tomorrow …