At the advanced age of 20, I thought I knew what I liked in literature. It turns out, I was wrong.
I’m not as passionate about education as I am about writing for television, so this internship was going to be more of a learning experience. Tom Rademacher‘s book “It Won’t Be Easy: An Exceedingly Honest (and Slightly Unprofessional) Love Letter to Teaching”> was the book tossed upon my desk, and I wasn’t that excited about it.
I didn’t really care about teaching and how much this guy loves it because I was never going to have an experience like that. My plan isn’t to be a teacher, so why read a love letter about that?
Well, I read it. I loved it. I was hooked after the foreword. I couldn’t believe how much I related to something that I thought had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with me. The whole story was about how Tom Rademacher cared so much about kids he didn’t even give birth to. They weren’t his kids, and he still cared for them.
Every story he told about a student made me feel like I was there when those events happened. I felt for those kids who were having a hard time, and I respected Rademacher even more when he made those kids feel better or when he screwed up and realized he should have done something else to solve an issue. Conversations between a student and a teacher are all about respect.
What Changed My Mind?
Why did I feel like this book was written about me and students I knew? Why did I relate? Here’s why: If someone woke me up in the middle of the night and asked me to name my favorite teachers in five seconds, I could do that in alphabetical order and then go into detail about why they’re my favorites.
I could give examples of times when I chose to sit in their classrooms rather than go to lunch because I felt more comfortable there. I could talk about all the times in college when something was easier for me because of a high school English class. I’d definitely need more than five seconds to talk about all of this.
What makes talking about favorite teachers even better is keeping in touch with them. Rademacher talks about how former students have mentioned his name because he did so much more than he thought to make their lives better, even if it was just letting them sit in his room for lunch.
Teachers are as important—if not more important—to students as students are to teachers. Teachers stay teachers because they care about the lives of their students. They care about education and fixing education and fighting to make sure that eighth grade or high school isn’t anyone’s last stop in life.
This is what this book is about: teaching teachers and students that life isn’t easy, but teaching others can make it less difficult. These teachers shaped me into who I am today, and I’m particularly grateful when I think about why they continued to teach, when Rademacher talks about why changed his mind about quitting.
I think about how much respect these people deserve and need, in order to respect us and our needs. Respect goes a long way. Teachers are there for students—not for themselves. We might as well treat them like they matter, right?
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