By Riad Mahmood

There are so many areas that concern me every day, every minute! The problem is that they leave me with a sense of unrest. I have always tried my best to be an educator who can actually make a difference in the life of a young person or a child. Sometimes I find it takes a lot out of me. One of the things I find challenging is the constant need to work on myself. When you work with children you need to inspire them to do things. If you are good at something and you are able to show your skills they automatically want to be like you.

The need to make our school a more interesting place to be in and to make every day more meaningful for children is a hard task. You just don’t get to take it easy and find yourself working overtime. When does it all end and where is it all going? This is a question that I keep asking myself. But somehow the need to go to work the next day gets stronger. There are days when I feel humiliated, angry, frustrated, happy or elated. The days that I wait for are the ones when I can sit back and tell myself that I did a great job or I saw someone do a great job. These days are rare but truly worth waiting for. They are the days that make you stay with the profession.

One of the hardest things to deal with is when you for some reason get on the wrong side of parents. The fact that some of them just never seem to think you are right is so disheartening that you wonder why you are a teacher! We live in a world where defence is the best form of attack and no child can really ever be wrong, right!! But what to do, we just love these young people and have to be by their sides.

Imagine taking a great class where you got a student to really think about a concept or an idea. You actually got some brilliant work out of him or her and then you have to correct that same child outside the classroom for something and he or she tells the parent that you did that. All of a sudden you are the bad one in the mind of the parent. Oh no! What can you do? All you did was care so much for that student that you felt the need to throw light on his or her actions and you were the bad person at the end of the day. It hurts!! We all go wrong from time to time but few know that we never have the wrong intentions and at times we may let our emotions get the better of us.

Then there is the school philosophy. It’s those little sentences that we put up on Web sites and in literature; it’s what we live for and hope to achieve. If only we had a way of making people believe in it – but that’s not the way it turns out. The fact is that you just need to keep at it. In times of making a point you will always be up for judgement or criticism. Stay with it – eventually your students will look back and remember you for it, may not be now or soon but someday. Ask your older folk at home, they will echo these thoughts.

How about those times when you just know a child is wrong and you get that note from the parent or a call from school administrators asking whether you were over doing it with that child? When this happens it hits you below the belt and leaves you scared and hurt. You don’t even have time to heal or give yourself time to reflect because you have to go back and take a class. Wow! That’s hard and tests your character.

A school comprises of so many different personalities, an eclectic mix of people who come from different backgrounds. Teachers are brave people who have to take a lot from their environment. May be we joined the Head Start family for different reasons! May be we have different visions or want different things. But the question in my mind is “are we going to stay together for similar reasons in time to come?”

Head Start has seen so many ups and downs. We have learnt from every exposure and every day. I don’t know how many of us want the same things in life. The quest to pave a way that we think is the right way goes on and on. Mediocrity stares us in the face, the pressure to conform, or comply never dies.

I ask myself if children do what they do because I haven’t done my job. Could I have talked to them more and provoked them to think about things in greater depth? Do they behave badly, disrupt, take bad decisions, become abusive or harm themselves because I either presumed they would behave better and reacted irrationally when they did not; or did I simply not set the right example or lead by that example rather than just rely on giving a few instructions.

I don’t think I can be friends with my students! I am not comfortable with that. I don’t think I want to be popular with them nor do I want to be their hero.
Am I just educating children or am I also indirectly working with parents too?
Could I just be the person who stuck to what I believed in or did what I thought was right under the circumstances! Could I be remembered that way?
Do any of you feel this way or have you felt so at any point of time? Then hang in here for a while longer – you might just think you made the right choice!