Sitz im Leben
I want to say more. I want to free my voice again. I’m buried.
I’m a teacher – a special education teacher, at that. I work with the intellectually gifted – not what most people normally think of when they hear “special ed,” but the services I offer are just as individualized and just as crucial as those that a student with dyslexia or a hearing impairment may receive. My students all show strong evidence of high potential, and I am working to help them realize that potential. I teach an advanced language arts class for middle school gifted students, and I serve as an academic advisor and mentor for gifted high school students. I love my students, and I care deeply about the work I do. I know that my words and silences, my actions and hesitations, even whether or not I’m getting enough sleep to be fully “on” at school the next day, affect lives beyond my own every day, and can open or close doors for the beautiful and incredible young people I serve.
I am keenly aware of my responsibility to my students and their families. I teach at a rural community school and have a relatively small caseload, but the phrase “public figure” has been running through my head lately as I consider my situation in life. Surely I’m not so delusional. I’m not a senator or a radio host or a “public intellectual.” My scope of influence in the world appears to be relatively narrow. The influence I have, however, may be profound. Because I am entrusted with the intellectual and socio-emotional development of children, I expect thoughtful questions about the work I do and respectful criticism of how I do it. I expect attention – from my students, certainly, but also from colleagues and community members. I expect to be taken seriously, and I expect to be scrutinized readily, held to a higher standard. I don’t want to get grandiose here, but I am a teacher, and I embrace that role and all it entails.
I am also a writer. I might need to type that again. I am a writer.
I was a writer before I was a teacher.
I must know – I must hope, anyway – that this fact does not make me less of either.