My job is to teach 11 and 12 year olds how to read and write better. This may come as a surprise to some, but a good majority of today's youth are not particularly excited about reading and writing. As if the gig isn't hard enough, many of my students come in working below grade level. I've got kids who read and write at a second grade level, 4th grade level, 6th grade level, even a 9th grade level, all in the same class. I have 140 students this year, and my challenge is to help them all improve. All this is to say, teaching kids to read and write is a daunting task.
There are days when it feels like it's all a big waste of time, like nothing I do makes a difference. My students are at a critical juncture. If they can't read and write, what chance do they have in this world? I try to have the kids read and write as much as I can, but I only have them for 50 minutes a day, a little more than 4 hours a week. Factor in all the absences and wasted time dealing with disruptive kids, and it's just not enough. Sometimes I feel like my job is impossible.
I can't give up though. It's just not in my makeup. I may have chosen a quixotic profession, but I love it. I love when a kid figures out how to correctly combine two sentences into one. I love when a kid volunteers to read out loud because he's finally confident he can do it. I love when a kid writes an essay with an obvious thesis statement and ideas to back it up. I love when a kid tells me the book we're reading in class is the best book she's ever read (thank you Watsons go to Birmingham). I love when a kid who would make you cross the street writes a poem that can break your heart. These are the little victories that keep me going.