Coral Reef High teacher takes pride in her work with students
New state-mandated curriculum rules add to the list of things teachers must overcome to get kids learning.
Twenty-five years ago, I entered what I perceived to be one of the noblest professions one could pursue: education.
Fresh out of my undergraduate studies at the University of Florida, I was a vibrant, idealistic young scholar just five years away from the people I was entrusted to nurture, mentor, and educate. Like so many before me, I believed in the endless possibilities of education.
I got suckered into scholars like Horace Mann, who believed that education was the great equalizer and that through education we could live the American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, whatever whatever your race, color or creed.
As a career and technical education teacher, I was acutely aware of the importance of nurturing a well-rounded student who was not only academically astute, but also possessed the leadership and career skills needed to enter into the job market after graduating from high school. Equipped with an education-rich pedagogy and countless lesson plans developed during the last semesters of my studies, I was ready to assume my role in preparing the next generation of leaders and scholars.
Although formal training provides the tools to develop your profession as a teacher and learner, no course prepares you for the day-to-day realities of being a teacher.
As teachers, we give so much of ourselves, working hours beyond the contract – including weekends and holidays – to ensure that we provide our students with every opportunity to learn. and thrive in the real world. We spend our own resources to ensure that our classrooms are innovative communities where students are free to live and embrace their truth, while learning their role in society as global citizens, protecting and standing up for marginalized groups and being good stewards of our land and its natural resources. Resources.
We counsel, celebrate and share the grief of our students at some of the most memorable stages of their lives. With the normalization of mass shootings in American society, we pray more than ever for the well-being and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. On top of all this, we prepare our students to excel academically and socially in the global workforce, with little praise and often an excessive amount of criticism.
I’m often asked what I love most about being a teacher, and I immediately think of the students who sit in my classroom every day and the joy, laughter and sometimes challenge they show when they learn a new concept or experience something meaningful.
I think of the incredible parental support I have received over the years, how their personal and professional networks have enabled me to provide local, state, and national opportunities for students. I also think of the parents who, through partnership in the education of their children, have made the impossible possible in terms of their children’s learning outcomes.
My greatest joy, by far, comes from seeing students succeed beyond their wildest imaginations and knowing that I played a tiny role in planting that seed.
Conversely, I’m asked what inspires me the most disdain when I think of our profession, and I immediately think of the culture wars unleashed by local, state and national leaders. They demoralize teachers like me who give so much to our children. I have always viewed the classroom as a safe space for all stakeholders. Instead, the classroom has become a platform to magnify the most hateful and divisive rhetoric and ideology espoused by so many in positions of authority.
As a Christian by profession, I am deeply disturbed when I hear baseless political operatives falsely accuse teachers of being healers, blatantly attacking our character and livelihood without adequate response or protection of teachers against such accusations.
We teach our children to model behaviors that even those in positions of authority do not adhere to themselves. It is hurtful and reckless for the thousands of teachers in our district who work tirelessly to educate the children of Miami-Dade County. I am also disturbed when I think of the many laws created that threaten the safety of our children and teachers for mere political talking points, as well as the constant threats of funding in an already underfunded public education system.
Lack of support, new laws perpetuating culture wars, and claims to fund our schools are exacerbating difficult times, forcing educators out of the teaching profession. I never imagined a time when our workforce would be relegated to unskilled and untrained personnel to teach and inspire our most precious asset, our children.
Despite this current state of our policy, I remain optimistic about the future of our profession and our incredible students.
I will not be deterred by the bigotry and racist idolatry that aims to divide us. Instead, I aspire to help my students and colleagues see the beautiful diversity that exists in each of us, and how we all have a role to play in creating a more loving and inclusive community in which we can all prosper.
Nyree Washington is a teacher at Coral Reef Senior High.