|8th graders recently raised $1,100 as part of our One Penny, One Soul project. CLICK HERE to learn more.|
I Think I Want to be a Teacher…
A student, the popular kid who is so confident in himself that he doesn’t let anything that others may say about him shake him, sits as a junior in my classroom – unconfident about what he wants to do after high school. Is he personable? Absolutely. Does he have social skills? Some of the best. Is he intelligent? A’s and B’s. But up until now, throughout the course of his Iowa I Have a Plan…he has had no plan.
So imagine my surprise when he announces, “I think I want to be an English teacher.”
To see how serious he was, I invited him over for dinner to discuss his new revelation. This was easy, since he was also my neighbor.
Listening to him talk about wanting to be a teacher reminded me of myself my senior year and coming to the same revelation. He wanted to inspire, to spark passion for English, etc. But then he asked me…”Is teaching worth it, though? I’ve heard some things that can make it sound…frustrating.” And as soon as he asked that, I immediately reflected back on my last 6 years of teaching.
I’m not sure what I said after that to answer his question, but I always do better when I write it. So here is my attempt.
Is it Worth it?
The short answer – yes. But let’s be honest. There have been some really good teachers to get out of the profession in the first five years of their career. There’s a reason why they call it “Teacher Burnout.” So there must be something there to scare them away.
I imagine the politics that go along with teaching that NOBODY told me in my methods courses in college might have something to do with it. Or perhaps the parents that believe their child could do no wrong. Or maybe the outdated 20th century standardized testing that we have to prepare students for in a 21st century setting. Or the politicians who push for education legislation without even consulting real teachers. Or maybe it’s seeing stories on the news of BAD teachers doing inappropriate things with the profession and giving the rest of us teachers a black eye in the eyes of society. All of these may have something to do with it…but I’m just assuming, and that’s wrong of me.
But despite these…frustrations…there is still something artful and pure about the profession. Through the bureaucratic red tape and looming pressure of standardized tests, I believe there is a light that still shines where teachers can still have a positive impact on not just one student’s life, but every student that enters their classroom. Teachers that are ethical and genuinely care can find the greatest self-gratification from the profession.
|8th graders finish our mock trial at the courthouse. The mock trial is part
of The Outsiders unit.
Every teacher has those stories of when a student let them know they made a difference. Some have more stories than others.
I feel very lucky to teach in a school district where the students are not afraid of letting you know that you made a difference. From little emails to messages on Facebook to college students returning to your classroom on their time off to let you know, a teacher will take a compliment anyway they can. It’s what drives us to continue in the profession. It’s what pushes past the negative aspects that may come along with the job. It’s the fuel that keeps the spark ignited within us and helps us avoid “burnout.”
So to the kindgartner who wishes to be a teacher when they grow up, to the 50-year-old wondering still how they can make a difference, to the high school student who initially had “no clue” what to do but was ignited with the teaching spark…I say YES…it is worth it!
I get up everyday and teach for the students. The paycheck is the bonus.