Editor’s note: The following Q&A is part of Xpress‘ annual Kids Issues.
David Bird, a language arts and Spanish teacher at The Learning Community School, discusses the challenges middle school students face, the patience that goes into teaching and misconceptions teachers deal with.
What are the biggest challenges facing local middle schoolers in 2023?
I teach in a small private school, and while there exists a tighter-knit community than what many other children may experience, the heavy weight of the world finds its way in. With the interconnectedness of our world, messages of global warming, school shootings and racial violence pierce even the thickest-walled and well-meaning bubble. What’s different [for today’s kids] though, and there is a difference, can be attributed to the pandemic but also a perceived abandonment by the adults and systems meant to protect them. Our systems and structures have been shaken along with the families with whom our kids live. Sometimes those closest to the earth feel the tremors the deepest.
What do you love about being an educator?
I love being surrounded by the energy, vibrancy and creative forces that are our future — the potential actualized in the classroom and yet to be realized. Teaching requires patience, but the long game is so worth it. To be a part of a kid’s life — integral to their growth and success — is why I became an educator over 20 years ago.
What is the biggest misconception people have about the role of teachers?
Teachers have a tricky lot. Most everyone has attended a school, so they have an opinion, a story or an idea of how things should be. Now more than ever, educators and education have become politicized and vilified. The buy-in and trust from families is essential to the model, though. Some of the most creative, brilliant and compassionate humans are those called to teach our children.
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