I started my second year as an assistant professor 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 interrupted with tales of unusual and complex teaching problems. They batted away my curricular suggestions with sighs of “I have no classroom budget.” They complained about the course 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 about their attempts to do good work in a broken system.
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.