Nicole McGrane/Courtesy photo
BY NICOLE MCGRANE, M.Ed
Barranca Mesa Elementary
Educator, Mentor, Author, Parent
We are roughly two months into the school year and some familiar realities are setting in. Each year we, teachers, begin with hopes and dreams for the year to come. We believe that the new year will be better than the last. We believe that this will be the year that things will fall into place. This will be the year that education feels right for the teachers, students, and parents. I presume others have similar expectations.
Then, the school year starts and we see our hopes and dreams falling away and no matter how hard we try to grab hold, they seem to be just out of reach. If only we had more time. If only we could inspire our students to believe in the importance of their education. If only we could rally more support. If only our system wasn’t so broken.
I feel the stress teachers are under. I feel the anxiety building in students and the concern of parents growing. We all feel the pressure to make things right. To somehow make things work despite the odds. I am frustrated with a system that makes it so hard for talented, dedicated teachers to stay in teaching. We should not be losing passionate teachers because staying means giving up too much. I am frustrated with a system that makes it so difficult to create learning environments and plans that work for students. While I understand why some of these systems exist, students are losing valuable time while we are busy documenting, protecting ourselves from litigation and working against each other.
Despite all the frustration and overwhelming fear of not being enough, I am reminded of what is right with education. This year, I feel blessed to work with some amazing teachers. We come to work each day with the expectation that it is going to be a great day. We rise above the criticism, challenges, and obstacles that come with working at a school under construction. We rise above anything that threatens to jeopardize our chance of making this a great year for our students. As long as we teach, we will work to inspire and impact the future of each child in our classrooms.
This year, I have been grateful for parents who have communicated with the intent to be partners in their child’s education. When communication begins from a genuine place of wanting to support each other, students can’t help but become a more responsible student who takes ownership of their own learning. They can’t play the parent against the teacher because we are united. I have felt a shift in the tide of parental support and this gives me so much hope in the future of education.
Most of all, I am inspired by my students. Each day, I get little glimpses of what they could become. More than anything, I feel like my job is to help them believe in themselves, not be afraid of failure, and to persevere through challenges. I only get them for such a short time but I know that great potential lies in each of them and am honored to play a small role in their journey. “The future of the world is in my classroom.” If it weren’t for these kids, I would not still be teaching.
I want to challenge us all to find the good in our schools, identify what is working, and support changing what is not. Communication should be constructive, not destructive when talking about education. Everyone in my school, Barranca Mesa Elementary, believes in our students and in the value of education. We are invested in our students’ success. As we work to redefine our school, I ask for support. Change is hard and takes time but it often leads to something better. I still believe in Barranca and the path we are on.
With the bond and school board election upon us, I also want to encourage everyone to use their vote to support candidates who they feel will put students first. Support candidates who are willing to stand up to a system that needs to be fixed. Support candidates who aren’t afraid to do the right thing even amongst immense pressure to conform. Use your vote to support our schools and support our students.