How My Inspiration to Teach Just Got a Reboot

homeboyRecently I interviewed for a transfer to a new school where state of the art technology and parent choice are the manner of the day. When I wasn’t selected, I began to question why I teach and more importantly what is the concept for teaching at the school I am at. I think any working person ca relate with this because we all get into our chosen fields for one reason and that reason often gets blurred over time.

I was talking to a friend about my blur at work. I started there in 2002 and along the way I have had mammoth success. Along with that though has come an abundance of questions, most still unanswered. The school I work at is in a a low socio-economic strata and the kids, while grateful and rewarding at the same time, can present challenges not present in schools of other stratum. I used to thrive on the fact that my students are like sponges and that they were thankful for anything because most of them had nothing. This has been the case for so many years but lately I have sort of dwelled on the challenges and the rewards have been harder to acquire.

I thought the transfer to a school where parents choose the school, rather than proximity to address, and technology is the mainstay K-6. I thought the kids might be more responsible. My friend reminded me of what I already knew: kids are kids more or less wherever you go. There is a lot of good work to do on any socio-economic level. The same day he told me that, one of my most porrly behaved students wrote me a very touching note, thanking me for being his teacher. The next day, he had moved away from the high desert and students informed me he wasn’t going to return. This impacted me greatly. The adage “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone” came to mind.

There is much work to be done where I am. My friend reminded me of the work Homeboys is doing in LA. One priest has made a difference in the gang-ridden inner city by getting troubles youths a place to work, learn, rehabilitate themselves, and find spiritual truth. Wow. I went online and read all about this ministry/business. How can I create something similar to improve the behavior of my 4th graders? Moreover, how can I inspire them for success in the real world. They must see the future ad long and boring. How can I light a fire in them? Make them eager to learn the lessons that I have to give?

After 16 years of teaching, I was feeling burnout. Fortunately, the words of my friend reminded me of Homeboys and how my life needs a ministry “reboot” of sorts. If I am going to make a change for my students, I have to create and innovate. I need to always be finding ways to inspire my students in the real world. Yesterday I got an email stating that the techy school where the parents choose to send their kids had reopened it’s hiring and I had been encouraged to apply again in my rejection email. The funny thing is that although I really wanted that job and the new school, I see my work as cut out for me right where I am. I’m going to remember the image of the Homeboys and bloom where I am planted. This is my book of dreams and I know where I’m going, again.

Author: Damien Riley

Having been a public school teacher since 1997, I've gained valuable classroom experience. Sometimes a great tool is a dynamite lesson plan. These posts are from a real teaching journey. I hope they inspire you. Thanks for reading!

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