Everyday I think about my role as an educator. Is it enough to simply deliver instruction? Is it enough to simply manage a classroom of students? The question is no. The question is absolutely not. However, educators sometimes believe that this is the secret of teaching. If you’re able to deliver your content and manage your students then you’re doing a fabulous job of teaching. I’m sorry to say that this is not the case. In seeing the beautiful smiles and sometimes frowns of students, I ask about my relation to them as an authority figure.
In my daily life as a paraprofessional, I am able to see teaching upfront. I am able to see the good, great and despicable. I am able to see students’ responses to their peers, teacher(s) and various authority-figures within the school. On the otherhand, I am able to see teacher’s and their way of teaching. In seeing these important aspects of education, I question myself about my future self. As a preservice teacher, I am constantly going back and forth with my personal motives for going into education. Am I ready to deal with the everyday happenings of a school’s system? The school is a system. It’s a system that may or may not support your stance on social-justice. As a staunch supporter of social justice, I am often faced with myself as an authority-figure and as an advocate. Do I use my power of an authority figure to correct the injustices that I see or do I simply accept a school’s blind eye to them? In the classroom, do I simply yield to domination in order to manage students? Or will I see to create an atmosphere of love and healing for students?
In unlocking my own anger that often drowns me daily, I juggle questions internally that I think teachers may ask themselves. What is more important- money or justice? Could you have both? Sure. However, I believe that it is sometimes one or the other. I absolutely love my job, but I am constantly faced with questions of ethics. What is my philosophy on education? What is my role as an advocate for social-justice? In a system that is often structured around domination, you are often called to yield to schools that reinforces: racism, sexism, homophobia, classism and etc. It is unreal how you will find yourself hearing sexist, racist, homophobic, and classist speech from individuals that are supposedly leading the way for students. For any educator, it takes strength, dedication, loyalty and heart to stand up for the wrong that you see. You have to remember that students are often looking up to you for guidance. Your curriculum and your daily-living should embody the values that you seek to teach. Your personal life should not be disconnected from your work life. Sometimes we believe that it is okay to be different in our personal and professional life. No, it is not okay. If we preach tolerance in classrooms, tolerance should be a personal practice that we observe in our personal life. However, this may not always be the case. So, we need to work on ourselves. We need to practice decolonization. We need to practice truth.