Imagine something that hasn’t come naturally to you. At all. Something you desperately wanted to learn, but you struggled so much to do so. For me, it’s not anything school related. That all came very naturally to me. Even the stuff that didn’t come naturally (science), still wasn’t ever a tremendous struggle. I always passed.
But teaching. That hasn’t come so naturally. In college, I had professors encourage me to switch majors. Truth. Once I actually started teaching, I struggled to get my students to understand. I felt like I was doing a lot of teaching, but that wasn’t translating to a lot of learning. And that killed me. As a teacher at a high needs school, I knew that my failures affected children’s lives. I worked tirelessly. And yet still, I struggled.
Things have certainly gotten better in the last three years. Some things certainly are a whole lot easier now than they were when I first started. I’m still no expert, but my students are learning. And that’s something.
But I can feel that struggle like it was yesterday. It’s heartbreaking to attempt something every day, to give it your all, and to fall short. We all have something like this, something we wanted desperately to be good at, but just… weren’t. And we struggled, persevered, and we got it. Because we wanted to get it.
And that’s how I know. No child ever. None. Zero. A big fat goose egg, as we say in class. No child ever has wanted to be confused in class. No child ever has wanted to feel so overwhelmed by a test that they give up and bubble in a pattern rather than giving it their all. No child ever wants to be the only person not raising their hand. Every child wants to be successful.
The degree to which children are willing to persevere might fall short of our expectations. But let’s be clear: they don’t enjoy failing. Nobody does. So when it’s easy to feel like that child doesn’t care… when they sit at their seat and stare into space rather than attempting a math problem… when they stare at me blankly or shrug their shoulders rather than trying to answer the question… I remind myself.
No child ever.