In Dana Patterson's "Why Bother?" she explores why it's worth it to be in the trenches with the kids. Being an educator, as explained by Patterson, is all about being a role model, a guidance counselor and sometimes, even a mother. It's about making decisions that could deeply impact my student's life one way or another, good or bad.
For instance, Do I call the parent of the a child who's got an "F" in my class because he refuses to pay attention, even though I know that student will be verbally berated as soon as he gets home? Heck, I saw it happen face-to-face at conferences. Or worse, do I make the phone call if there is any suspicion of physical abuse? I mean, really, the kid said his mom beats him if doesn't do his homework. What if it's true. Of course I talked to counselor and the SRO officer, calls were made, but no proof. But what if it's true...even a little bit? If I don't call, I'm not communicating with parents, I'm not fulfilling my professional duties. If I do, God knows what the outcome might be and whether or not the student will trust me again. Maybe that phone call could be the catalyst to something much scarier, even unthinkable. Maybe I'm just being paranoid. I don't know.
The point is, as a teacher I'm not just responsible for me. I'm not just responsible for my students. I'm responsible for an entire group of people I can't control or even necessarily find or communicate with. How does that even make sense? There are so many variables and where does the responsibility rest? On the teacher's shoulders, of course. You know the buzzwords, "teacher accountability." But here's the catch, "teacher accountability" doesn't mean parents can excuse themselves from the table of responsibility and it also doesn't mean our profession as educators should become the scapegoat of the world's woes--economic, social, whatever.
Even with the negative environment that is swirling like a rabid tornado around the world of public education, I LOVE what I'm doing and I love the challenges these types of situations present, but I hate the negative opinion, the negative press and the lack of support for quality teachers that is plaguing education. Yep, I have bad days and the kids at school can drive me crazy, but I do care and I do bother. Why do I bother? Because someone needs to be there for the kids when everyone else is giving up on them. Because high schoolers are truly the funniest people I know and I laugh, cry, speak sternly and even provide the occasional snort because they impact me just as much as I do them. They make me happy. More importantly, they make me see myself for all the good and bad that I am, and they force me to reflect, change and reflect again. The question is, why shouldn't you bother?