Today, I Taught the Kids Instead of The Curriculum and Damn, it Felt Good!

Today, I Taught the Kids Instead of The Curriculum and Damn, it Felt Good!

Over the last couple of weeks, since the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, a lot of emotions have been in the air, both in school and at home. As a parent, we do everything we can to protect our children from harm, but some things in life are out of our control, things that we can’t protect them from.

As teachers, we have a similar protective instinct with our students. That’s why many of us chose to become teachers. To be able to help kids, to prepare them for life, to be a part of their growth process, to teach them. We pour so much into our students, sometimes we go home and have barely anything left for our own kids.

We get angry when bureaucracy ties us down and when distractions take away from their learning time.

We feel personally attacked when parents don’t participate in their education at home and unfair standards limit our ability to teach.

We get frustrated when paperwork consumes the energy we so dearly cherish and try to conserve for our students each day.

We get emotionally attached when we know a child is in a difficult situation at home or has experienced a traumatic childhood.

We research, we consult and educate ourselves in every way possible when we find out a child is diagnosed with a legitimate condition to help them as much as possible.

It is in our blood to nurture, to protect, and to have an impact in as many young lives as we possibly can.

Thinking back to the day I graduated with my teaching degree, I remember having a distinct flame inside of me, blazing to meet my first class, my first set of students. Eager to take on that first group of young minds with so much to learn about the world, so much to absorb. Confident that they’ll leave my classroom better, wiser, and more prepared human beings, ready to take on the next step in their lives.

I could literally feel the passion rushing through my blood, it was my calling, my purpose in this world. Nothing and I mean NOTHING, was going to stop me, nothing could tame this burning flame.

Fast forward ten years later, through thousands of time-wasting meetings, countless stacks of papers, data input, and the never-ending red tape. All the “extras“, all the crap we never signed up for has smothered that flame, deprived it of oxygen. And any flame, no matter how bright and raging it is, eventually starts to dwindle without oxygen.

That’s when it hit me.

Maybe that’s what I need. A surge of oxygen to reignite the fire inside. To give it life again and remind me why I became a teacher. The flame may be flickering, but it’s not out yet.

Maybe teaching the kids and not teaching to the test or the mandated curriculum or the common core, for a day, just ONE day will be enough to keep my teacher fire alive.

So, that’s what I did. And boy, did it hit the nail on the head!

For one day, I set the lesson plans aside and connected with my students. We talked about the death of Kobe and Gianna, the fact that life is so precious, and how we have to embrace the ones we love, let go of grudges, forgive, be kind to everyone, and take life by the horns because time waits for no one.

One conversation led to another conversation, and then a story and another story, and lesson after lesson after lesson. Nothing was planned or timed, no notes were taken, no textbooks opened, no worksheets completed, no one stared at the clock — just a room full of different minds sharing different thoughts, learning from each other and about each other.

Students who rarely participated before joined in on the discussions.

Kids who didn’t get along so well left the room talking with each other.

Some of them came to me after school to tell me how much they enjoyed today’s class.

Today, my students left school without learning any new math equations or being any more prepared for the next state exam, but they left with so much more than that.

They left with smiles on their faces and new perspectives of their classmates, their teacher, and school in general.

And I left school with a renewed spirit, a burst of energy that I went home and poured into my family. I know it won’t last forever but it’s enough for now. And maybe if I take the time to do it every so often, I might just keep that flame alive and continue doing what I love. Being a teacher.

Today, I Taught the Kids Instead of The Curriculum and Damn, it Felt Good!

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