Teaching is a work of "heart" -- by Jennifer Mitchell
As a child I knew that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. Everything from bonding with the students, sharing my love of literature, fancy pens for grading, colorful stickers, you name it and I was all in. I don’t consider much of anything I do as a sacrifice picking this profession. I feel a sense of satisfaction when I tell others that I am a teacher, not everyone gets to work in the profession that they dreamt of as a child.
When I spend my own money for my students, it is a decision, nothing I feel obligatory in any way. Time spent in the evening grading or planning lessons just comes with the territory. I will say the older I get, the longer I am in the profession, sometimes mentally it takes a toll. When you work with children their world meshes into yours. When their parents separate or get divorced and the student is struggling you take that home with you at night, trying to figure out a way to help that student. When their house floods and they are relocated to a hotel for several months, you mentally try to figure out how to help that displaced student. Sometimes the unimaginable happens, you learn a student's parent has passed over the weekend. I am fortunate enough that I haven’t experienced the loss of a parent, so at times I am out of my element trying to comfort students in their times of need. When you go to college your university prepares you for growing kids academically, they don’t prepare you for the nightly baggage you take home with you trying to help kids emotionally. I always want to help support my students, but at times I don’t feel adequately prepared for the challenges they face. When they have outside challenges I can’t imagine how difficult it is to come to school and learn. As their teacher I will continue to strive to meet their needs even when I feel inadequate at times.
Jennifer Mitchell - 3rd grade teacher in the Kansas City area