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When "love" isn't in your job description...


Every time I open up Blogger to write something, I'm confronted by this huge number of people who read my last post.

And every single time, I close the tab as fast as I can.

I don't want to see that number. Which is crazy, since, I mean, I write things so that people will read them. But it's so much pressure. Too much. These readers - they, well, they want something from me. Part of me is stubborn and says, "I'll write when I damn well feel like it." Part of me is desperate, itching to write about so many things. And part of me is scared - what if they don't like it...what if they think I'm a hack...what if they say awful things about me...what if...?

But then then yesterday, I saw a tweet:
We'll get to my first thought in a moment, but my second thought was, "No wonder teachers are so screwed." This tweet? It's the pressure I felt from having scads of readers only times a million. Not only do we have the responsibility to teach academics and social-emotional learning and make up for the poverty our kids face, but also, WE ALWAYS HAVE TO LOVE THEM.

What if they don't like me? What if their parents don't like me? What if they don't like my class or what they had for breakfast or the team they're playing against in sportsball after school? And they don't have food. They live in their car... I don't know if I can love them through all of this. And the skinheads - do I have to love them? I don't have enough love.

Being a fountain of boundless love is a lot more pressure than having people read your blog.

I guess that means that it's a good thing that my first thought was, "I don't love all of my students."

In fact, there are students in whom I can find absolutely no redeeming value.

There.

I said it.

Not only do I not love all 360 of my kids, I don't even really like some of them. Does that make me an awful teacher and human being? Nope. It doesn't. It makes me a professional doing a job. A job that I love. A job that challenges me every single day. It is not my job to love my students. It is my job to teach them not only music, but how to be a good human - even to people you don't like. I love my job, but I don't love all my kids.

And that's why tweets like this, probably meant to be encouraging, but adding another straw to our overloaded backs, are what will break us. WE will break us, by playing martyr and savior. You are not a god, benevolent and promising deliverance. You are a human being who will teach more by showing how humans behave than you will by trying to be inhuman. Be kind, be civil, be respectful - kids deserve that.

Because all humans deserve that.

Everyone is worthy of love. I believe that to my core. It's just not me who has to provide it to every child I see. I go above and beyond in what I do because I love my job and I love myself. I even love many of my kids. But telling me that I have to love students because I am their teacher and that is what I'm made of is unrealistic and harmful.

To me.

To my students.

To our profession.


--

To those of you reading this and thinking, "But, but, 'love thy neighbor as thyself'" let me say this: I am not a Christian, so what I have to say about this is probably a moot point to you, but indulge me. In the Bible, the basis of rules on loving your neighbor is fairness and honesty. Be honest, generous, and fair to others and they'll be apt to do the same to you. Extend a hand to those in need. Don't show preference to the rich and powerful - the book of Leviticus is based on this premise. So many of the rules set out for Moses from this Old Testament God were based more on justice than sacrifice, leading me to think that I don't need to sacrifice my familial and filial love when I can be fair and reasonable. I'll "do unto others" instead and see how that works out for me.




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