I am a teacher, not just a teacher. Fortunately for me, I grew up with the kind of family who supported every imaginable hope and dream I could even fathom. In fourth grade, when I decided to be a teacher, my parents applauded my decision. They were quick to provide me with the necessary materials to provide an excellent education to all of my stuffed animals and baby dolls. More importantly, they validated my choice, even at such a young age, instilling in me that success is not something to only be measured by financial gain, but by personal impact on the world itself.
The world did not greet me with that same message. Instead, I was often met with surprise when I said that I was going to college to become a teacher. “But you are so smart?!” was a common response. Even now, a few years into my teaching career, I ran into an old group of friends who inquired about my career. When I mentioned that I am a teacher, one of the women responded with, “Ugh, I just couldn’t tie that many shoes and clean dirty noses for a living.”
The part that really shocked me? She had no idea why that was offensive. Is this what the world thinks I do every day? Is this why so many teachers work weekends at department stores because their teaching salaries don’t allow them to make ends meet? Is this why so many teachers are not evaluated, not supported, and not provided with professional development? Is this part of the reason behind the achievement gap?
It is time for us to change the way the world views educators. Being a teacher is not a fallback career choice. And in order to the eliminate the achievement gap, we need the best and brightest to choose teaching as a career.
At Rocketship, you can feel the change happening. While higher compensation and the ongoing professional development are definite perks, for me, it’s really about the people I work alongside every day. These people are having an impact and changing lives, defining what it truly means to be a teacher. If you are interested in seeing what it means to be a teacher, please spend a day on our campus—we’d be happy to have you.
Because it’s in the moments when your coach reminds you of your student’s success, on a day where you can only see the kids who have room to grow. It’s in the moments where your team members celebrate your successes and share in your troubles—hovered around the copy machines.
It’s in the moment that you see a child make a friend for the first time, using strategies you’ve taught them. And it’s in the moments that parents take your hands in conferences, thanking you for giving their child a chance—that’s when you see what a teacher does.
While I do tie shoes and clean the occasional nose, at Rocketship, I know we do a lot more.
Caitlin Adams is a first grade teacher at Alma Academy, where she joined the founding team in 2012. She graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a BS in Liberal Studies, emphasis in Child Psychology. Caitlin grew up in Pleasonton, CA and has been teaching for three years. Outside of school, you can find her spending time with her family, online shopping, and planning her next trip.