Real Talk about Urban Teaching

I have the great honor of being part of a wonderful community of new teachers, the same ones that I “grew up with” during my last three years of college, most of whom are now out in the work force. I respect them all tremendously and I’m especially psyched about the large amount of us that have made the choice to teach in the city of Milwaukee. We are urban teachers. The new urban teachers.

My point with this post is simply to say this:

Urban teaching is not a picnic of idealized, homogenized, hands-neatly-folded-on-the-desk, wide-eyed congeniality. However, neither is it what so many people seem to write it off as: a headache, a lost cause, a poor choice, or (God forbid) a waste of a college education. Urban teaching is waking up every day knowing that you are serving others, that you are choosing to prop the door open for young people that want to be let in, that you are building a community of many colors and classes, that you have the power to–for a set amount of time each day–melt away the overpowering real life that comes knocking much too soon for many of your students. It’s hard, hard work. But it gives a meaning to your work that is ten billion times greater than the highest stack of Wall Street paychecks. Plainly stated, it ROCKS.

Too much, we new teachers end up apologizing for our idealism. One friend of mine in particular brought this up recently, after joyously admitting how much she loves and admires her students at one of the most notorious, “dangerous” schools in the city. She’s refusing to look at her kids with a closed mind. She feels like she’s changing the world. Is she wrong to feel this way? Am I? Some seasoned (read: jaded) veterans might say so, mocking our naivete.

But you know what I say to that? Screw it. This world needs idealists. So we’re here. And we’re here to stay.

Idealism = Reality from an enlightened and courageous point of view. Go with it.

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