But soon is coming a time when
I miss the classroom. It doesn't come with the fancy title of "professor". But it comes with bright-eyed children, delighted in the simplest things, and tired, sad children, who also can get excited and sometimes smile, if you can only get them to see how meaningful the world is, and how much they are loved. The classroom comes with lots of prepping and planning and re-planning and assemblies and indoor recess and stress and irate parents and demanding administrators and paperwork out the wazoo and report card boxes too small to write a significant comment in, and, and and... but it also comes with a grade 7 student who beathes a sigh of relief when she realises you've forgiven her for the temper tantrum she threw yesterday. It comes with the inner glow when one of your student teachers realises you practise what you preach. It comes with a parent saying thank you for "getting" my grade one boy, and not making him write reams of paper when he needs to learn actively.
Today I found out that someone I consider very intelligent indeed is a statistic I fight against. I found out that someone I respect a great deal dropped out of high school many years ago. And although this person "made it" okay, I know that is likely due to this person's family and personal circumstances. I know many, many kids are not so lucky when they finally drop out. And I also know that high school drop outs are made in elementary school, even if they don't actively drop out until much later. And... I know that I have made a difference for some of those elementary school kids. I know this because I am old enough now to have recieved emails from a few formers students, who had some rough times throughout their high school careers, but who--in part because of me and colleagues like me who believed in them and taught them as they needed to learn -- stuck it out and graduated.
When I was teaching intermediate some years ago, I got a letter from a student on the last day. It was tearful and heartfelt. The words cut into my soul, I could feel this student's pain as she professed her appreciation of the year she had had in my classroom.
I don't know if I can make that kind of a personal difference at the University.
This summer, at the end of one of the courses I teach at the University, I got a letter from one of my student teachers. It was lovely. She said I am "made to be a teacher". I smiled, and I cried. I stuck her letter on the bulletin board in my office.
If I am made to be a teacher, then how can I be a professor?