I understand the importance of my career and I always have. To whom much is given, much is required. However, every now and then, I reach a place in which I feel like what we do as educators, is trivial and almost futile. No one really cares, they just act like they do.
We bust ours butts to give our kids a shot at something. Something more than what society says they deserve. At times, I ask myself “who died and made me qualified?” How can I tell this child that this is what they need to do, and that everything will work out? Am I any different than his uncle or older brother who hustles or who tells him that if he is clever enough, that he can hustle the system too?
Because of the times that we live in, I need to have concrete evidence that I am making a difference. Not just for my employer, but also for my own sanity. This is usually bundled up in standardized test scores and annual evaluations; certificates of merit you might say.
To say you have had over a decade of positive impact on children or an entire community is not enough. It just so happened that I was reading the news feed on my Facebook page and someone tagged me. The feed read “The best teacher any student will ever have Ashley Toussaint, he never gave up on me.” -Wilma
First and foremost Wilma is not a girl. He was a 9th grader that I taught during my first year of teaching in Miami, Florida. Wilma would come to school high, skip class, get into fights, curse at teachers and more. As a result, he failed the 9th grade. I would have Wilma for 3 more years.
I remember his senior year, with a huge grin on his face, he said to me, “you know what Mr. Toussaint, I’ve had you every single year of my high school career.” Thankfully, by his senior year he had changed his tune. All the while I thought he was simply maturing and realizing that his errant ways were leading him down a “nowhere” path.
Truth be told, I had more of an impact than I realized. He didn’t “shout me out” because he passed his state exams or graduated from high school or got accepted into Florida State University. He thanked me for never giving up on him.
How do you measure that kind of impact? What is that really worth? How do you put that on a resume? We have been told time and time again that success is measured by test results. Well how about life results? Even though the result of this third grade reading scores might have indicated that he would end up in prison, he defied the odds.
I have no problem taking credit for that.