Every year when award season rolls around and the media seems to inundate society with who was nominated for what, who wore it best, and who might win an Oscar, I have been known to joke about the lack of red carpets, gold statues and SWAG gifts in the profession of education. I would absolutely love to hear how the interviews would go if we were given a red carpet on our first day back during workshop week.
“Excuse me, I just have to know, who are you wearing? That t-shirt, yoga pant combo really works for you!”
“Yes, tell the viewers who designed your outfit?”
“Who? Well…I bought my T-shirt at Target…they had a 2 for 1 sale…I have another one in blue. And the yoga pants…Marshall’s. Again another sale. You see I tried to convince Target and Marshall’s to “dress me” for workshop week. But they offered me some pretty good sales instead.”
Yes, and all the bags your are carrying, bags of…what do you have in there? Looks like pencils, books, paper, markers… all for your classroom I’m assuming. Are they designer bags?”
“If you call reusable shopping bags designer bags, then yes…yes they are!”
I digress…In truth the vast majority of people that go into education are not doing it for this type of attention or extrinsic incentives. Instead we do it for something that is far more rewarding, something that doesn’t require a shelf to hold it, something that can’t be put into a bank account, and something that often is only shared by a few rather than millions.
That something is student success. Now I am definitely NOT talking about test scores or even grades. In my opinion those rank low on the ways to measure student success. No, what I am talking about is the hundreds of little moments that make up every school day.
The day a child understands a math equation, gets 8 words right on a spelling test after only ever getting 6, speaks up in class, shows kindness to another student, points out when the teacher makes a mistake (yes that is success), writes their name in cursive for the first time, independently communicates for the first time, initiates a “Hello”, reads an entire book, or even uses calming strategies when frustrated rather than becoming physical. This list can go on and on, it is truly limitless.
Moments such as these are so valuable to educators because we witness daily the hard work that created them. We know that our student that sang in the assembly almost didn’t because they were too scared, we know that the student who read an entire book used to believe they couldn’t read, we know that the student that spoke up in class is struggling with a speech delay, and we know the personal reasons behind the anger of the student that chose to use a calming strategy. It brings tears to my eyes to even write this because each of these examples comes from my personal experience.
I value the success of my students so much that it is difficult to put it into words and I know that I am not alone in that feeling. I see the hard work that my fellow educators do every day to ensure that students succeed. We do not need or even ask for awards, red carpets, fame or money. The SWAG from teaching comes in the form of the intrinsic satisfaction of seeing our students succeed. So parents when you are at conferences, IEP meetings and school events, please remember we want your child to succeed too! And not because their success is tied to a test score or a grade, no we want them to succeed because we truly do care!
Further information in our Advocacy resources.