Hero Vs. Villain

It’s so easy to be compared to the villain as a teacher. At times, we deserve the title as the villain because of our pop quizzes, giving zeros for no homework, and telling students when it’s ok to use the restroom. Being the villain isn’t easy, especially when comes to working with parents. In some parents’ eyes, we will always be the villain no matter what we do.

But I didn’t become a teacher to be the villain, I became a teacher to be the hero. I wanted to be the hero who swooped down out of nowhere and used my superhuman strength to lift test scores. I wanted to jump and clear any math or reading obstacle that got in my students way. I would be that symbol of hope and inspiration to my students.  I was going to be that hero on the front page of the news that actually changed my students’ lives.

Today, I feel that I am slowly moving out of that shimmering beam of hero light and into my top secret villainous lair. The feeling of self-doubt and the overwhelming weight of my students’ needs is too much. The constant interruptions, calling out, fighting, arguing, crying, not raising your hand, disorganization, can’t stand in a line, bathroom “field-trips”, food fights, bullying, lying, no homework, talking in the hallway and the absolute worst crime of all — the messy desk — are taking a toll on my superhuman abilities. The activities that were once amazing 4 years ago are now losing their luster. I can feel myself changing into something I vowed never to be: the villain.

Being a teacher is one of the most selfless jobs in the world next to parenting. It’s so selfless that we even give up our own bathroom time in exchange for higher stakes test scores. People who come into this field are eager to be the hero. However, many of us leave the field frustrated or unfulfilled within the first five years of our career. It often feels like you can either quit your job as the hero or work long enough to retire as the villain in most cases.

How do we keep ourselves from becoming the villain?

Educators Unite! Assemble your own superhero league of educators. 

·       Find a group of educators or a mentor who you can trust will always have your back in these dark times.

·       Hunker down with your fellow educators and rely on each other for extra support.

·       Be open to collaborating with your fellow teacher heroes on lessons.

·       Build on each other’s strengths and surprise your students with a new project or lesson.

Who is this for you? For me, it is having my amazing co-teacher, Amanda Steeley, by my side. If it wasn’t for her amazing superhero SPED abilities, I wouldn’t know what to do.

A recent study by The Institute of Education Sciences found that teachers who had mentors were more like to remain in the school they were hired in after 5 years of teaching than those who did not have a mentor. Building successful relationships with your fellow teachers is key in order to keep yourself motivated. There is no shame becoming the sidekick!


Grab that Utility-Tech Belt!

Technology has taken over the classroom. One of the best ways to get adapted to new tech in the classroom is to start small. First, find out what your students are really into (gaming, social media, etc). Then, bring it into your classroom. For instance, my students play Minecraft at home constantly. We were able to use Minecraft as a learning tool in the classroom. My students were so engaged and so excited about building famous landmarks from around the world in Minecraft that they didn’t even want to go to recess! (what!?!?) The day that I introduced Minecraft to my students, joy filled the classroom. It was contagious. I felt like Batman when he had just saved Gotham from another attack or locked up the Joker! It’s those moments that make us want to come back every day to teach.

Never, Never, Never, Ever Give Up

We all face challenges every day. It’s how we handle those challenges that determine the next step of being a hero or villain. Teach fearlessly! Leap from one amazing lesson to another. Keep pushing for justice! Recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths as a teacher and build from there. It may mean taking risks or trying something completely new, but even if we fail, we have another year to make it much better. Teaching is one of the few jobs that lets us take a failed lesson and make it better the next year. Now that’s growth mindset! No matter what we do, we must never, never, never, ever give up. We might not realize it but in some of our students’ eyes, we are the only constant and positive thing they have.

Dark times will hit your classroom, just like they do in Gotham City. Your students might turn against you, and at times, problems might arise. The most important thing we do as heroes is to fight for what is right in our classrooms. Instead of thinking, What will help me get through this year? we should really be asking, What is best for my students and how can I make this year the best yet? Focus on your students who need you and stay positive. Don’t let stress and frustration wear you down. Put on that superhero teaching suit and look toward the sky. We may never leap from a tall building or risk our lives to stop an out-of-control, speeding train, but we can take a leap with our fellow educators and try something new in our classrooms. In order to stop ourselves from becoming the villain, we have to be a true hero who takes risks because it’s what’s best for our students.