It’s not wrong that schools and districts ask teachers to reflect on their why in the beginning of the school year. It’s good practice. But the ways in which we extract life stories from teachers in the beginning of the year, in my experience, has always felt cheap.
In my time as a teacher, a lot of these activities were centered around motivating teachers during challenging times. “You must know your why, it will ensure you’re motivated to keep going (aka staying late at school or grading papers on your weekends).” And we share it and it’s done. Chile, bye! With a hyper focus on labor, we lose the power of our own healing. We lose the understanding of how our stories help us to empathize and connect with our colleagues and most importantly, our students.
It can sometimes feel overwhelming to think about yourself in a profession that’s “not about you.” We cannot ignore investigating our why. It cannot be set aside or assumed. Because at the core of your why is your humanity.
🔜 Check back here for part two of Patrick's story and the importance of exploring our true why for teaching.
Learn more about The First Five at Heinemann.com.
Patrick Harris II is a Black queer writer, storyteller, and middle school humanities teacher. He has won multiple national teaching awards for his leadership and innovation in the classroom, including recognitions from NCTE, ASCD, and ILA. Teaching and creating is only part of who Patrick is. He is a big brother, a cat dad, lover of all things horror, a WWE fanatic, and is obsessed with scenic hikes.
Find Patrick on Twitter & Instagram.