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Sara Garcia on teaching: “My kids face a world I will never fully comprehend”


Every day I have a reason to smile.  When I wake up every morning I know that there are many students who expect to learn something from me that day.  That knowledge is empowering, but, even after a full year of teaching, it is still scary. 


I never remember thinking my teachers knew everything, but I always fully believed they knew everything I needed to know for that particular year.  I know my students look at me that way, and I truly believe I have one of the most influential positions available. 


The high school students that I teach daily are still figuring out who they are and what they want their role in the world to be.  I hope that I can influence them not only to become more confident in their academic skills, but to empower them to make positive choices in their life. 


When they watch me munch on carrots at lunch, I hope they realize there is value in eating healthy food.  When they see that I'm willing to stay after school as long as they need, I hope they realize that it's important to work hard and show others you care.  When I repeatedly emphasize how much I believe in them and how much progress they've made, I hope they learn to be proud of themselves. 


And my students are by no means the only ones who benefit from this particular teaching experience.  Teaching has taught me to think more before I speak, and to make sure that others understand me. 


Teaching has taught me that I can get less than 6 hours of sleep each night and still make the commute in the morning with a smile on my face.  It has taught me that adolescents have more spunk than many adults can imagine. It has also taught me, not just about how much my students are capable of, but of all the things of which I am capable.


Like the days when I'm a policewoman: making kids scrub tagging off walls and desks, chatting with parole officers about how long, exactly, that ankle bracelet will be keeping my student in class. Or when I'm a mother: buying binders and other assorted school supplies for my kids, calling them at home to remind them to finish their homework.


This feeling surfaces yet again on days when I'm a counselor: questioning my formerly stellar student on why he has lately begun to think that school is a 2-day a week gig, and trying to believe myself when I say that algebra and biology will, in the long run, be just as important as the drama going on in his home. Or the day I got to hold my crying female student as she told me she was suspended yet again for fighting...the same girl who loves Winnie the Pooh and the color pink.


My kids face a world that I will never fully comprehend when they leave the school grounds. But somehow, I see them and myself materializing each day- leaving behind what we were and becoming who we will be.


I could go on and on, but this tale has been told before.  A recent college grad moves across the country to teach at an underperforming school in a sprawling urban metropolis- people often tell stories of how these bright eyed graduates wilt when faced with the reality of the public education system in our country. 


I hope the rest of the stories get out too.  Stories of the countless brand new teachers who grow to love their students a little more every day.


--Sara Garcia as told to Brandon Bridges

 

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