I started my second year at SFSU in a warm, crowded classroom full of teachers going to school after working all day. Many of these special education teachers, my students, taught in the hardest-to-fill positions in underserved communities. They arrived in my class quiet, even sullen, I thought. They challenged my knowledge and authority by interrupting class with unusual and complex teaching problems in a confrontational tone. They batted away my curricular suggestions with sighs of “I have no classroom budget.” They complained about the workload and the reading. I tap-danced and Power-Pointed and told stories trying to engage them in learning … and went home feeling defeated.
But then, I started listening. Not just listening, but hearing what they had to say.
Teaching is an extremely challenging profession.
Teaching is also abundantly rewarding when it is tackled creatively, thinking from a place of possibility.
Possibility comes from creating incremental and attainable objectives (even in the face of seemingly insurmountable goals), identifying and acknowledging multiple viewpoints, seeking out diverse resources and supports, and perhaps most importantly, challenging assumptions about what is possible for you, your students, and your school.