Why I Am Grateful to Be a Teacher

Veteran teacher and TeacherVision Advisory Board Member Connor shares his journey to the classroom and recounts with gratitude the amazing rewards, large and small, received in the process.

Updated on: November 19, 2019

Why I Am Grateful to Be a Teacher

I graduated from The University of Georgia with a degree in Public Relations and Organizational Leadership. I entered Corporate America bright-eyed and ready to help companies communicate the heart, mission, and "why" behind their products. I learned quickly that people don’t buy what you do, but rather the reasons behind WHY you do it.

After working for almost a full year interning for a dream company, my life came to an earth-shattering halt as the result of a severe car accident that significantly hindered my ability to walk. I spent 6 months relearning how to use the lower extremity that was surgically repaired from a mangled mess.

During this hauntingly slow time period of my life, I reevaluated my purpose and motivation. Sure, I was happy utilizing my skills helping brands grow their profit margins. Sure, I loved working in non-profit fundraising helping hospitals secure massive donations. At the same time, I was haunted by the sense that I was not contributing in a way that was truly meaningful. When I began casting about to find my true passion and calling, I realized that my heart, mind, and soul's purpose lay in trying to bring systemic change to the failing program we call education.

I earned my Master’s Degree from Lipscomb University and dove right into an interesting environment. The vast majority of my students came from economically disadvantaged homes and many of them had experienced multiple Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs). 100% of my students were in the bottom 10% in the nation. They had been left behind educationally, with particularly severe deficits in their journey through the gauntlet that is mathematics.

Through transparency, vulnerability and being 100% authentically me, we established this safe haven for having tough conversations, cutting through pain and brokeness with restorative practices at the heart of every conversation. My students received individual learning plans in which they cherished being able to close their own gaps. My students thrived in this community and the vast majority grew into the 99th percentile of NWEA’s Map Growth Assessment.

Seeing my students thrive and build confidence and competence in a scary subject ignited a fire within me that could not be tamed.

I learned more about educational equity, providing safe spaces for kids to make mistakes and it showed me a lot about my ability to empathize and be a difference maker.

I am thankful to be a teacher because in a world where we hide behind Twittter and Facebook political commentary, there is a desperate need for advocates who strap on their boots and fight for equity in this nation. All children are worth fighting for. All children are capable. All children deserve to be loved, cherished and passionately motivated to be the best they can be.

I am thankful to be a teacher because I have the opportunity to teach the entire child. We cannot hold kids to expectations that we do not set. It is the greatest honor and privilege of my life to be a somebody to someone who feels they have nobody.

Just as my students speak these words of affirmations about themselves, I think it is important that teachers do as well.

I am somebody
I was somebody when I came here
I will be a better somebody when I leave
I am powerful
I am strong
I am loved
I am worthy
I am cherished
Today, I will be my best, because I deserve it!

Derived from Ms. Rita Pierson

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TeacherVision Advisory Board Member Connor Siegel teaches middle school math in Nashville, TN. What he loves about teaching is creating an atmosphere that allows all students to be themselves. He advocates for a culturally responsive classroom that holds all students to high expectations for all types of learners. He believes that when students know they are loved, we can champion them to unprecedented growth.

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