I was talking with my uncle who has been in education for over twenty years now. I was trying to get some sage advice from him on different things like: what to expect as a new teacher? How do I make myself stand out from everyone else that is trying to get hired? What’s the best/worst part about your teaching experience? And so forth and so on.
But then when I asked him what he has found in his career that he dealt with a lot that he didn’t expect to when he first started out was quite interesting to me. He said that he wasn’t expecting to also be a “social worker” at the same time. What he meant by this, was that he didn’t realize when he first started out was how many outside factors influence the student’s daily lives.
For example, he told me how numerous times he has taken money out of his own walled to give to his students who were not getting food at home due to the fact that their parents were poor, or work two to three jobs and aren’t home to feed their children properly.
He also mentioned how he has had to go out and buy some of his student’s clothes and shoes to wear because the ones that the child was wearing were beyond filthy and tattered. As a principal, he has had to deal with many instances of child abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse. He said he was thankful that he has not had to deal with too many of those cases, but that it is still unfortunate that even one did occur.
However, despite all these terrible things, he mentioned how it is the love for your students as an educator that keeps him going back each day. He told me that even though those kids have to deal with such terrible things in their lives outside of school, that when they do come to school, he makes sure that they know that they are loved and appreciated as human beings.