This is a difficult question since there are some days where I wish my life would be better. For example, sometimes I think my life would be better if I had more money in my bank account or if my relationships would be meaningful. Other days I am grateful for the life that I have and am proud of how far I came in life.
No such thing as a life that’s better than yours
— J. Cole
Last week, just a week before I went back to my work at an elementary school, I found out my hours at work got cut from full time to part time. I work as a tutor with a community-based organization that partners with local schools. They send undergraduate and graduate students into high-need schools with the intention of increasing the number of adults within the classroom. The organization believe (with research to back it up) that students' academic and social/emotional learning improve when there are is more than one adult in the school that they trust.
After receiving the news, I started panicking and wondered how I was going to cover my increased living and education expenses.I also received a text from one of my colleagues saying teachers for the Seattle Public Schools district were planning to go on strike. Within 10 minutes, I became overwhelmed with waves of anxiety, frustration, and sadness.
I sat on the couch thinking why is the United States so disrespectful towards educators. Many individuals including myself are working so we can gain experience while attending school. Many go into public education because they believe all students should have access to quality education and believe in the work they do. But the lack of support from the local and federal government makes it extremely difficult to stay in the field.
Naturally, I started to listen to music to ease my emotions. “Love Yourz” by J. Cole, one of my favorite rappers, came on and my heart was filled. In the song, J. Cole raps about how some people can so caught up in the hustle that they leave their loved ones behind in the pursuit of fame and fortune.
This is one of my favorite lines:
Cole argues there is no purpose in pursuing those things if it means leaving our loved ones behind. There will always be a life better than ours but it is important to be thankful for the current life we have.
Thus, I was reminded of how I lucky that I am to be in the position that I am today. Yes, I might be out of work and sometimes feel my work as an educator does not matter especially with the state government taking over 10 years to develop an efficient public school spending plan. But I have the opportunity to be involved and engaged in an issue that I care deeply about. Not everyone gets to directly work with young people and inspire the future of America. Who knows, I might be shaping our next rapper or president. If so, I hope my student gives me a shout out in their acceptance speech after he or she thank God and all of their family members. An invitation to dinner at the White House would also be great.
I would not give up a life where I need to constantly advocate for my position and for my students’ right to a quality public education. I truly believe that I was called into the field of education not only because I love working with young people but I believe in the work I do. I believe my physical presence and my skills positively impact the students I interact on a daily basis, even when some students drive me up the walls and make me want to scream my head off.
The work is so exhausting and difficult.
I had colleagues who volunteered in a classroom for one day and called me asking,"Amy, how do you do this everyday? I'm so exhausted from just one day!" I would laugh and explain that they have not experienced the darkest moments of an educator. Often times, my colleagues would not have to witness a student being dragged out of the classroom because he or she was a danger to their peers. Or have administration inform you about budget cuts on certain services that your students depend on. Or sit with a distressed classroom teacher who is crying about feeling incompetent and underappreciated.
My work is messy and stressful.
As ironic as it may seen, craziness of my work is what motivates me to get up every morning.
So, is there a life better than yours at the moment?