Why I Teach.

My little girl came to visit me one day.
I’ve been writing a post titled “The Overwhelmed Dad” for a while now and I keep putting it to the side, because I don’t want to sound like I’m being whiney about being a dad.  While I keep going back and forth with this post, I get ideas for other posts that I would like to write and then something like this happens to me.

Last Friday the 23rd of May I was getting my students ready to line up for our last field trip of the year.  As I was doing a double check of the attendance, one of my former students came walking into the classroom.
This young man was all dressed up to attend the eighth grade luncheon and he made a bee line to me.
“Hey, what’s up man? You look pretty fancy.” (Yes, that’s how I talk to my students.)
“Mr. Aragon, I just want to say thank you.”
I stepped back for a minute when he said that and I said “for what?”
A little back-story on this young man.  Last year was my first year teaching and this young man was a little challenging.  He wouldn’t do his work.  Always played around in class and was just your typical goofball.
Toward the end of the year, I think he started realizing that his habits were going to make it harder for him to pass and he started zoning out.  Everyday I would talk to him about the choices he’s making. 
I would tell him that I saw potential in him and that he could pass this year if he worked a little harder.  If he didn’t turn in an assignment on time, I didn’t attack him for it, I just told him “make sure you turn it in to get some points for it.”
Now this isn’t one of those, he turned himself around, got A’s on everything and has a full ride to (insert name) university when he graduates school type stories, because that’s not reality around here.
Instead, he still was a bit of a goofball in the eighth grade, but he had some focus this time around.
Now back to the “Thank you.”
When I asked him “For what?” he responded that I never gave up on him and that he was paying attention to all those talks we had in the hallways and while he was in line.  He said I made a difference in his life and helped him prepare for eighth grade and he is thankful for that.
As he spoke I felt my eyes tearing up and a lump in my throat.  I pulled him out to the hallway and told him “Anytime.”
I told him that other than sharing my love of writing I became a teacher to try to make an impact on my student’s lives.  To get them prepared not only for school, but also for their lives after school.  I was always straightforward with my students. I didn’t sugarcoat anything.
While talking I felt my voice starting to shake, so I looked at his tie and said, “Who did your tie?” Then I started fixing his tie while we just chatted about the luncheon he was going on.
Teaching for me has been a blessing and a curse.  It’s been a blessing because I have been able to experience that “aha” moment in a student’s eye. 
It’s been a blessing because I have been able to share some of my favorite stories, songs and poems with my students.
It’s been a blessing to have students call me their “favorite teacher” or the “best teacher” they ever had.
It’s been a blessing to see students who are shy and barely speak in class, to perform poetry in front of the school with such passion.
Now to explain why teaching is a curse.  Now I hope people don’t take this as whining.
It’s a curse because my days do not end at 2:45.  I take my work home with me and stay up some nights until 2 in the morning working on daily plans and lesson plans.
It’s a curse because the long hours take me away from my family.
It’s a curse because at times I feel like all the hard work I’m doing goes unnoticed.
Now, I’m not knocking the profession at all.  I loved what I did in the classroom and can not wait until next year and hopefully make an impact on more students, but for now we will have to see what happens.
The reason that I have been talking about teaching in the past tense is because I was let go from my position on May 8 of this year. 
I have been keeping this from most of my co-workers, friends and some family for over a month and it has been killing me.
Everyday when I walk into my classroom, it hurts to know that I will not be back next year.  It hurts me when students ask me if I will continue the running club I started this year next year, because they want to join it again. 
I could have said “F’ this place!” and walked out when I was notified, but I have a responsibility to my students and I am a professional. 
Today (June 2) the administration posted near the office the assignments for next year and my name was not on that list.  What followed was fellow co-workers asking me why I was not returning next year and where I was going. 
It was kind of hard to tell them that I was let go, but it felt good knowing that many people were disappointed that I will not be returning next year.
This is just like when I was promoted to manager at the bookstore I was working at and then told the store will be closing in a month.  I showed management that we could continue making great sales and did not give up until the final day.
As a teacher everything is a learning experience.  This too shall be something that I will talk to my students about one day and show them that what defines you as a person is how you deal with the obstacles that life throws at you.
This is not where my teaching profession ends; this is where it will begin. 

Thanks for reading.
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