Why I Teach: to give power to words
By Brenda Krupp
Several weeks ago I was asked to write a blog post on “Why I teach? “ I remember being asked that by a newer principal during a get-to-know-each-other-better faculty meeting. I sat and stared at the paper, stymied. I struggled to articulate my thinking. During the obligatory share out the principal came and asked what I wrote. I showed him my blank page. “Don’t you teach because you love kids?” he asked. When I shook my head he looked at me and walked away, as if something was wrong with me, like maybe I shouldn’t be a teacher. But I knew then, and now, there is more to teaching than just a love of kids.
I teach because I love kids, and I think they deserve a voice in their world. Helping students find their voice and see the power of their voice is what keeps me teaching.
I see this happen in my third grade classroom when Emma composes an essay to kids whose parents are divorced and have a dad who has moved away. Her world is a world of hurt, but her classmate Josh reassures her that it happens a lot, he knows, and he then suggests a paragraph on ways to get happy again. Emma looks confused, but Josh takes the pencil and fills in the ideas. Then, he hugs her.
Kayla names her world in an essay about the PSSA tests and advises kids not to worry because “it takes away your focus, keeps you up and night, and can make you sick. I know because it happened to me.” She understands the power of her words. She understands that her words can cause change. So she hands me the essay to pass out to the other third classes and our principal.
As Maddie comes to the conclusion of her personal narrative about the haunted house, I wonder what she will write. She has revised it numerous times, and this time she has cut out pages of handwritten text. I watch as she rereads the words of a teacher who viewed her writing portfolio over the weekend. Then Maddie writes, “I was scared. Really scared. I cried and it is okay because I am only an eight year old girl and it is okay to be scared.” I listen. She looks at me and I see she is still struggling to put those words out into the world, I was scared. But then she says, “That’s how I felt so that’s what I want to say.
I have taught for over twenty-five years. I have taught in kindergarten, second grade, third grade, PAWLP summer writing institutes, and I even did a stint as the professional development coach for my district. I teach because I hope the children and adults who pass through my classrooms will understand what it means to have a voice in their world.
Brenda Krupp is currently a third grade teacher in the Souderton Area School District. She co-directs summer writing institutes for PAWLP. She blogs regularly at thirdandrosedale.blogspot.com and can be found on Twitter @brenkrupp.