We Are Teachers
A poem by Kyle Harris
We are teachers, great disseminators of knowledge.
We are nurses, healing scrapes and sickness.
We are counselors, mediating disputes between our students.
We are social workers, protecting and supporting those at risk.
We are parents, the children becoming our own.
We see their triumphs and trials, they see our highs and lows.
We see them grow, as they lead us to grow.
And every day we must struggle, learn, and grow for them
Because just being “ready” isn’t good enough.
Because they don’t need us “ready” to teach when they aren’t ready to learn.
Because it doesn’t matter if you know your times tables,
If you don’t know if you’re getting food at home.
Because ancient history doesn’t matter when today is another fight to survive.
Because slavery and civil rights don’t mean anything
When you’re still oppressed.
Or when they already know that the color of one’s skin
Determines the color of their clip chart.
Because it’s hard to teach keeping your hands to yourself in school
When you are beaten and molested at home.
Because children who are loved at home come to learn
When children who aren’t come for love.
Because the kids who need that love the most show it in the most unloving ways.
Because our children don’t need us to be “ready” when they tell us about their pain.
They just need us to be there.
Because no student should ever be a “problem.”
It’s easier to teach the obedient ones who don’t challenge you
Than it is to love the ones who won’t conform.
Why “catch a bubble” when you have your own truth to speak?
Why silence your student but expect them to find their own voice?
Where will we find critical thinkers, when our “best students” don’t question the status quo?
This isn’t why we teach.
We are individuals, and we teach individuals.
We don’t produce identical students from identical classrooms.
Because at the end of the day, we don’t teach standards.
We teach students.
There are days where we fail, but that doesn’t excuse us from giving our all.
We are human, too.
We are counselors. We are social workers. We are nurses. We are parents.
We are teachers.