derek lace I have had hundreds of bad days at work as a teacher. Some happened inside my classroom. There was the day my lesson for Les Miserables was cut short by a fire alarm pulled by a student. There was the day less than 50% of the students submitted their research papers. There was the day the Internet was down on the day of my observation and my lesson relied on the students accessing their work from their webpages. What I learned from those days was how to adapt to things outside of my control, change my approach to research paper writing, and always have a plan B when lessons rely on technology. Some of my bad days happened outside of my classroom. There were the days when my colleagues were excessed. There were the days when I had to argue with my principals. There were the days when my district’s test scores were published in the “hometown” newspaper. Those days have taught me to never lose focus on compassion, patience, and dedication regardless of outside pressures. But my worst days are the ones that have taught me the most. There was the day I learned my student committed suicide. There was the day I found out that my sleepy student was abandoned by his parents and was sleeping on the couch of a destitute family that had taken him in. There was the day the student I home taught passed at the age of 17 after battling cancer for five years. There was the day an angry student stood with a four inch knife surrounded by kids from a rival gang. There was the day a student told me something about her home that no child should ever experience. These days taught me why it is that I teach and it has absolutely nothing to do with numbers and everything to do with humanity. After 18 years in the classroom, I still have bad days. Bad days remind me to appreciate the good days. The bad days remind me that the most important part of my job is the emotional investment that I make with all of my students. The day I stop having bad days, I should remove myself from the classroom and take the green laces out of my shoes.

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