Let's face it, I can't make their choices for them. All I can really do is let them know that no matter what, I will care about them.
So in this conversation that I recently had, I was told that all of these things that I do for kids don't really matter. That my caring about them, doesn't really make a difference in the long run for some of these kids. I have to say that the rest of the day passed in a fog for me. I don't think I can actually wrap my head around this to be honest. Yes, I get that sometimes caring about these kids sometimes ends with me in tears. To me, my caring about my students does not take anything away from anyone else. I don't have a husband or a family. The students in my class are probably the only kids I will ever have. Maybe that is part of the problem? I want them to be successful, and I don't want to see them hit rock bottom before things start getting better for them.
I can understand the person's perspective who said this to me. They are concerned I take things too much to heart and that I will burn out. I probably don't know how to emotionally distance myself sometimes. But to me, I don't think I see this as a bad thing. I see this as one of my strengths actually. The kids in my class know I care about them. There is never a doubt in their mind about this, I don't think. To me, having an adult care about them is an important thing for the well-being of every child, and some of them don't get this at home. Sometimes I see more of a need for this with some students than others. Not all students are lucky enough to have the kind of family support I had as a child.
I have had students who came to school looking to be accepted by someone and cared about and needed to be reassured every day that this was the case. It is amazing to see the changes that occur when someone shows they care. I have had former students stay in school with a bit of one-on-one support to catch them up, and other students turn their entire lives around. Teaching isn't so much about the content, as the relationships that you form with the students. I think you need to see each student for who they are and challenge them to challenge themselves to be better.
I guess my point is that these successes make all the heartache and tears worth it. And maybe I won't be able to keep this up indefinitely, but I know that for now, I believe that I make a difference for kids because they do know that I care. They give more of themselves to try and impress me because we do have a rapport. I really want to help my students recognize and build on their strengths. I want to help them recognize who they are as a learner and make goals that they can grow.