By now, you must have figured out that I’m a teacher. And I love my job. I LOVE MY JOB! Sorry not sorry for the screaming and shouting. However, I love what I do and this has been the-hands-down-best-year-of-my-career. I feel like I need to say something after the hyphens but I can’t think of anything.
But, like any jobs, I have some points that are a bit disenchanting, exhausting, and frustrating. Now, this isn’t intended to be a rant. I really don’t feel like ranting because I am incredibly happy with my job. I was going to write about some of the frustrating points about teaching.
But I can’t. Not today. I just received a lovely email from a student that has me dancing on Cloud Twelve (not exaggerating here) and just can’t muster up the emotion that would allow me to speak to points that the public doesn’t really understand about the nature of teaching. That’s another blog. Today, I’m going to write about why I love my job.
Because I do.
Hands down…there’s nothing quite like walking into a classroom of students who are happy to see you, are happy to hear what you have to share, are happy because they want to share their ideas with you. Maybe it’s me channeling my inner Mrs. Fox or Mrs. Williams or Mrs. Harding. I don’t know, but I know that I love hearing my students give their opinions and share their thoughts with me.
All right. I have got to focus which is really hard when I’m watching What Not To Wear.
I love my students. Done. Right there. I love my students, especially those whom I’m teaching this year. I’m working on a research project in which I am studying student apathy, the origins of student apathy, and its effects. I figured my students would be a bit honest and forth-right about their points. But I wasn’t prepared for what they really had to say. They opened their mouths and let the truths of education pour out and I have found that they have completely transformed me and my teaching style. I learned about the teaching practices that I have done which don’t always work. On top of that, I realized that a lot of what I am doing is working…to a point. And now that point is shifting because I am working so hard on improving.
I love my students because of their trust and faith in me, which I’m not even certain that I have fully earned. I don’t understand why they come to me and peel open the fragments of their hearts and give the pain to me, as though they were handing over broken-baby-birds and expect me to pull out Band-Aids and wrap up the wounds with pretty strips of healing rubber. But they do and the little baby-bird sadness huddles between us as my students pour our their stories and give me the realities of their lives and I can only sit mute or offer banal statements of sympathy because I am over-whelmed with their traumas and sadness and pain. But those emotions exist and they are real and can not be denied or ignored anymore. I must find a way to fix the baby-bird and let it heal so that maybe it can stumble-fly back to the clouds once more.
I love my students because of their incredible joy when they realize that their ideas have merit and significance. I have students who have been flattened by other their peers, their parents, or other teachers and I love seeing them when their self-confidence re-inflates and their spines re-align and straighten. Sometimes, I worry that I am the one who flattens them. The fact is, I know that I have caused pain. I know that I am the one who created discouragement and grief, for which I am remorseful. I wish I could wind time backwards on its spool and untangle the problems that I have caused.
I love my students because of their joy of life and the fact that their joy of life and joy for life ignites my own silly love of life so that, at times, we are mad groups of children running around, playing in the snow that may or may not stick. But, for a few seconds, we are no longer intelligent, complex thinkers. We are upright snow angels licking snowflakes out of the air and giving back laughter that is pure and unfiltered with anxiety.
I love my students because they teach me. From my students, I have learned what it’s like to be gay, black, atheistic, adopted, addicted to drugs…the list goes on. From my students, I have mentally walked through worlds I will never see, no matter how much I dream about walking those paths. From my students, I have learned about medical procedures I will never experience, medical conditions I pray I will never have, and the grace it takes to live through these medical moments. From my students, I have seen totally different lives and ways of existence that are so much more real than anything described in a book. Because, with a book, I can close the covers and walk away. But my students’ stories are the vertebrae in my teacher’s spine.
I love my colleagues. I work with fabulous people who are willing to share their knowledge, their experiences, their compassion, and their very selves with everyone. When one person is struggling with a catastrophe, the rest of the faculty bands together and donates money, sick days, and time…lots of time. Faculty members have pretty much adopted students, giving the “children” places of refuge and sanctuary. The people with whom I work are incredibly intelligent individuals who give more than just information and material needed to educate the students. They use experiences to teach. The teach more than just textbook material. They teach life.
I love what I teach. I am paid to read and write and learn about literature and creative writing. I love that I get to immerse myself in the worlds and words and sentences and poetry of the world. And, oh yeah, since I teach adolescents, I get to read young adult literature without having to justify myself. Right now, I am reading War and Peace by Tolstoy, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, 102 Minutes by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn. I am also reading a book in the Sisters Grimm series with the Girl and chatting about The Hobbit with the Boy. I don’t care. I get to read and talk about reading and writing with my students whom I love.
Have I had bad days? Yes.
Have I had bad students? Yes.
Do I ever wish I had a different job? Yes.
But where will I be next September? In my classroom, passing out poetry to my students and inviting them to read it and go on a wild ride as they learn that their analysis and opinions matter.
I’ll just be the person, standing on the side, grinning when I watch them realize that they’re right.
Update…I have been honored with being selected as a different blogger’s picks. I’m honored!!! Man, what a great day!