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Why Your Work in the Classroom Matters

A veteran educator discusses how teachers breathe life into students by showing them the kind of leader they can be.

By The TFA Editorial Team

November 18, 2019

Your Most Powerful Role is in the Classroom

Teach For America’s senior vice president of executive leadership and learning, Fatimah Burnam-Watkins, who is also a member of the New Jersey State Board of Education, speaks to incoming teachers in the TFA corps at the kick-off event of TFA's summer training institute in Philadelphia on how and why teaching is an emotional, mental, and spiritual labor unlike any other profession.

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'Every Single Day, You are Shaping Future Adults and Leaders’'

As educators, we cannot ignore what's happening in the world around our students because teaching doesn’t happen in a vacuum. As much as our kids learn within the walls of a school building, life outside of those walls is teaching them many lessons that will affect how they show up in your classrooms. And that’s why I really do believe being a teacher is the most important and hardest job in the world. There is an emotional, spiritual, and physical labor that is required in teaching because the reality is the role you are stepping into today is not just important or hard, it’s one the most powerful in the world. Every single day, you are shaping future adults and leaders’ understanding of the world and their place in it. What you validate and focus on—ask about, celebrate, react to—all of those things send signals to your students what matters. You are matter-of-factly speaking life or death into our kids every day.