I remember my days of school as a teacher. I remember walking to my first classroom and thinking how I was walking into my destiny. I was an eager, middle school English/Language Arts teacher. I entered my classroom while singing the words to the “Greatest Love of All.”
“I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way!”
– Whitney Houston, Greatest Love of All
Every teacher remembers their call to teaching and their first day of school as a teacher. It’s that moment that reminds me of my why. The students’ possibilities of being better than we were when they grow older is what pushes me to continue leading, learning, and speaking out for the advancement of students in public education.
I believe the children are our future, and that’s the best possible fuel to help me show up everyday in my classroom and give it all that I have.
That’s the task; that’s the assignment. I show up daily to inspire, teach, and lead students to being their best selves.
The narrative of children being their best selves doesn’t fit into the goal of a capitalistic system so the system changed the narrative about the impact of teaching. What I’ve seen in the media about public education during the last two decades is that we don’t have excellent teachers. It’s filled with racism, bad policies, and the interference of big business and politicians and this perpetuates a continual fight of special interests in education. This drives the narrative away from lifting up teachers.
… and none of this helps the students to be their best selves, or encourages younger generations to want to become teachers.
I am clear as a veteran educator of the role of the American public education system and my role as a Black male educator in it.
I respect any teacher who decides to leave the classroom. This isn’t easy work, but it’s also not impossible work. The art of teaching is a gift that too often becomes complicated and confined by the interference of internal and external entities.
I want teachers, parents, community residents, and family members to understand the role of a classroom teacher is uniquely different from the role each of us plays as teachers in the lives of children daily.
Siblings, parents, neighbors, church members, and family members all play a role in the development of children. We’re teaching them how to treat others, show love, hate, resentment, forgive, overcome addictions, trials and hardships, and how to be a good, productive citizen.
As adults, we teach children regardless of how they act, what they look like, or their academic capablities.
Unfortunately, I feel that teachers have forgotten our role in the system and society due to the advantages of technology and the disadvantages that still plagues many of our children, especially Black children.
And adding Black to any of the following labels: LGBTQIA+, Muslim, low income, disadvantaged, disabled or homeless has for too long been looked at as an additional strike against these students.
It will take teachers like me to help society see the potential of all of our children. We are the ones who will remind adults that our children will eventually grow into adults who change the way those in the future will live.
I believe the children are our future, period!