Unless you are Edna Mode, capes are incredible. Shiny personalized suits that fit just so have an appeal that extends far into adulthood…to the point where there are conventions full of grown folk lining up in costume discussing alllll the super powers. And I get it. Superheroes are amazing. Wonderful. Great. I actually think I have a catsuit hanging in my closet somewhere…and as much as I love a good costume and wouldn’t mind the ability move mountains, I must say that in all reality, I am not a superhero. No teacher is.
I don’t want to disassemble any hashtag that may be hanging around Twitter about teachers and superheroes or cause anyone to throw away any of their “superhero teacher” t-shirts. The truth is that although the sentiment is sweet, at times feels empowering, for me personally, it is setup for feelings of inadequacy.
Superheroes are everything. They rescue people. They save the world and make everything that is wrong right again. There is no human error, misunderstandings, or shortcomings because superheroes are perfect. They make it happen and at the end of the day everything is perfect.
This superhero world is far different from the world of education.
First of all, no one needs to be rescued. It took me awhile to figured that out, but after some years, some reading, and continued reflection, my perspective changed and that weight has lifted. I. Don’t. Have. To. Save. Anyone. Wow. I wish I figured that out sooner.
So…if no one needs saving, is a superhero even needed? Isn’t that their whole purpose? If I am not swooping up distressed individuals, fixing every little thing that may be wrong in their lives (from my point of view, by the way) and flying off into the sunset with my cape and mask…am I still needed?
My answer is an unequivocal no. Not in the role of superhero.
Even if we took the “saving” out and considered ourselves superheroes because of the long drawn out hours we put in, the many hats we wear, the many connections we forge, and the difference we do make (because without all the hero schmero stuff, I do believe teachers DO make a difference), it is still a label filled with disappointment.
Superheroes are not human. Superheroes do not fail. Superheroes do not make mistakes. Teachers, however, are human. I cannot hold myself to the unrealistic expectation of being perfect always. If I did, I would have cracked like Humpty Dumpty and been out of teaching after year two…after all my inner goo was all over the floor. Because goodness, I have made a slew of mistakes and I continue to make them.
I could write a whole blog on mistakes and failures ranging from my first year when I spent the first semester teaching out of workbooks with kids copying what I wrote from an overhead projector to my third year when I killed off a bunch of baby chickens my class was hatching to my sixth when one Friday after a particularly long week I inadvertently ignored the needs of a child in my room because *I* was overwhelmed to my eight year when I put my entire class on a computer program one afternoon so I could complete and print my report cards that had to be sent home that day, to last year when I was so gung-ho on blended learning that I didn’t see when it wasn’t quite working until several months in to this past Friday when I had too short of a temper with kids who were being kids…all while realizing I have been putting so much energy into one child with some very special needs that I may in fact have been neglecting the rest of the class. And then now…check out that run on sentence. Here I am, a teacher, unwilling to properly punctuate.
The list of mistakes goes on. Add in flopped lessons, poor judgement calls, and mistakes that haven’t even happened yet but surely will. Because one day I won’t have time for coffee. Everything breaks loose those days. Mistakes happen and always have, from my early days to my veteran days. It doesn’t even matter. If I were a superhero, would those mistakes happen?
Superheroes are perfect. But teachers, they are not and if I held myself to superhero standards…well…it would be pretty ugly.
So here I am. A teacher. Teaching. Not a superhero…because if no one needs to be saved and if I make alllll the mistakes because I am not perfect then I can hang that cape up and take off my mask. I can do my job the best I know how, learn from my mistakes, and get better. That’s what teachers do. I can save the saving for the movies and save my cape for Halloween.