Monday, August 5, 2013

Why I Teach #SAVMP

Photo taken in Khayelitsha, South Africa (2008)

This year, I will have a connected classroom.  I reached out on Twitter and was overjoyed when I got responses from teachers all over the US wanting to connect our students.  I thought this would be a great way to allow my students to learn outside the wall of our classroom, become global citizens, and teach digital citizenship.  It is exciting and different from anything we have ever done in my class.

I connected with Jared, a teacher from Utah, and we sent a few emails right away.  I was pleased to hear he had done this before. He suggested a lot of great activities we could do together while also detailing some logistics and planning details that would make all this run smoothly.

Perfect!  I was ready.  But then he sent me this...
Of note my students come from a very conservative religious suburban white area, it will be good for them to interact and get some perspective from a more diverse east coast point of view. Can't tell you how valuable this is. During the election last year we worked with a school in New Jersey and one in Iowa and it was nice for my students to hear a different point of view from what they got at home and the community.  
I teach at a charter school in Baltimore City.  Our school is an extremely diverse setting with kids that represent almost every population of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.  It had never occurred to me that my kids could be a vital part of other classrooms building cultural awareness.  What a powerful experience for all of us.  We are breaking barriers and building a more understanding global community. This is why I teach!

And then, all of a sudden, I had this thought:

What if George Zimmerman had been in Jared's class?  

This was so overwhelming for me I cried, in public, while I was feverishly jotting down notes for this blog post.

Our jobs as teachers are so important.  With the resources and tools available to us with technology it is no longer about changing our students' lives, but about being a part of absolutely creating the most wonderfully connected and understanding society of people to ever be a part of our world.  Our students can understand other people in a way that has never been afforded to any other generation. There is no reason for anyone to be an outsider or isolated from people that are different from themselves as long as they have brave teachers willing to help guide them through these vitally importantly connections.

So today, I realized why I really teach.

I teach because I want our children to be brave, compassionate, strong, and loving.  I want to live in a world where people understand each other's hearts because they can connect with others that are nothing like them on the outside, but realize they internally share everything. I teach because I know, now more than ever, this is possible.


  1. Nice post, glad I could be a part of this. Intolerance stems from a lack of understanding or lack of education if you will. In many ways the very nature of educating our students is making them more compassionate, more tolerant, more caring and considerate. By helping them better understand the world and other people around them, we in turn are teaching them to be compassionate and caring. We can do character lessons, which have their place and are fine to do, but if we are really doing our jobs students will naturally have these feelings because they understand the world better.

    1. Jared, I am so excited to learn with you and your students this year. Thank you so much for connecting.

  2. Much deeper/different angle than my post. Capturing the compassionate part of education - the part that drew me to this field - providing children with not just the education the deserve, but the love that many of them never get. I've always been amazed at how much more there is to elementary education outside of teaching. I was so much the sponge (and still am) for instructional knowledge, but now I emerse myself also in trying to understand poverty, the larger educational political world, and a multitude of other facets. That's for sharing your story! Looking forward to hearing more!

    1. Thanks for reading Dan. Teaching and education is so complex. This post also comes on the heels of a really hurtful and insulting comment about teachers, which was made to me by a stranger today. That's probably for another blog post, but it really fueled me to write this post today. I am excited to learn alongside you this year!