I believe the sky was made for me to touch…

Driving home at the end of another day in which I felt that I made few gains in my fight to challenge the habits of my entrenched colleges, I was caught up in my annoyance from a conversation I had with my coordinator. He is a good man who has been teaching for probably fifty years. We clash a fair bit because his view of what he thinks students are capable of is quite small and my view is more like, “the sky’s the limit”. Today was another one of those ‘polite’ clashes.

As I played the conversation over in my head, I was suddenly struck by the words of the song playing through my iPod. In the ballad-like song ‘God’ by Relient K, the chorus ends with the line: I believe the sky was made for me to touch. As these words repeated with each chorus I could feel the annoyance I had been carrying fade and be replaced with new thoughts.

I feel a great deal of futility at the moment as I spend my days trying to have my ideas and innovations to improve the quality of teaching and learning in my department considered by my coordinators and colleagues. I drive to work and walk into the building feeling totally depressed by the accumulated battles and disappointments I endure each day. Over and over I wonder why I do these things; why does it matter if my colleague says “Students won’t be able to do that task, they won’t understand”?

My daily fight to make a change is because those words are what I want my students to know and believe; that their potential and the possibilities before them are vast; that they have been made with a great capacity for achievement than the check-boxes my colleagues and coordinators put them in. I believe the sky is there for THEM to touch.

I cannot stand the way so many of those I work with box-in, label and limit the abilities of the students they teach. If a student is not able to do something, then the teacher should be responding to support the student’s learning so that they are able to achieve more and be successful. My students may drive me crazy some days, but that would never stop me from providing them with all that I can to help them learn because that is what I am there, as a teacher, to do.

This fight is so challenging, but it is so important to me that my students, that those I work with, that each person I have the privilege to meet and work with, know their value and potential. So while I struggle with my colleagues and coordinators, I will continue to support them all the same, and try again and again to make a change in a fruitful way that will achieve the best outcomes for my students as well as my colleagues.

A high school teacher challenging the system and fighting injustices.