As a teacher, you get a thrill when a student masters a concept related to your course content. When a child learns to read or solve a math problem or even when they show you that they learned another life skill which isn’t an outcome like kindness and empathy, you get an adrenaline rush because in that moment, you made a difference to that child.
As a social studies teacher, sometimes we don’t get to see the results; sometimes we feel like our contributions don’t matter. We don’t get to see the skills we teach put into action because often, our students are grown before it happens.
When I used to teach grade 9 social studies, there was an outcome related to taking age- appropriate social action. My students would write letters to their local politician to explain why that issue was important to them. The students found it empowering because they had a voice, and because the adult in question was obligated to respond to their letter.
This week, as I looked out my window, I saw a large group of students, standing on a street corner, protesting an injustice. They were using their voices to show their government that they are not happy with their teachers’ working conditions and by extension, their learning conditions. They see that classes are bigger than ever, that they don’t get the attention they needs, that they don’t have enough textbooks, and resources. They see a government who doesn’t negotiate fairly, who tries to demoralize their teachers, who doesn’t seem to really care about their needs.
Today, I got to see the fruit of my labour. I got to hear their voices, their arguments, their desires for a better education system. The young people, my students, my kids, those infamous Millenials, so often labeled as lazy and unmotivated, standing on a street corner calling for change, for fairness for something better. And I couldn’t be more proud of them.