Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Good of the Job

I received an email this morning that included a section with several teachers responses to the question, "Why do you love to teach?"

It seemed to come at a very opportune time. During the past couple weeks I've been asked several times about why I stay in a job that I seem to complain so much about. And honestly their questions have made me do a lot of thinking about teaching....because, yes, there are many days where I do vent....but, at the same time, there are so many rewards too.

So why do I love to teach?

• Every day is different. There's no boring routine to my job! Every day there's new things happening, new topics being explored, and there are new challenges to face. In fact, in ten years of teaching, I doubt there's ever been two days exactly the same.

• I have the opportunity to watch kids grow. There's nothing better than seeing a student suddenly make a connection, grasp a new concept, or learn something new. I absolutely love, particularly with language arts, seeing a kid suddenly discover they actually love to read, or love to write. I've been blessed with having several parents come up to me and say things like, "She was never much of a reader, but she's reading all the time now" or "I was reading his story and wow, it's pretty good, isn't it?" -- those are fabulous moments! It's amazing to be able to stand by and know that with the right nudges and guidance, I have the opportunity to help students realize their power as writers or the wonderful escape a good book can be. It's those little moments that make everything worth it.

• Being around kids is also fun. They're constantly teaching me new things. I get to hear about great books and great authors. They, particularly through discussions in writing conferences, teach me lessons about topics I'm no expert about (For instance, just this week, I got to learn about all the parts to a skateboard!). They make me smile with some of their stories, comments, and actions. They at times make me laugh. Fundamentally: it's fun to teach.

So while, yes, there are the many challenges I have to face on top of all of that — complaining parents, sometimes demanding administration (who I know are primarily demanding because of what state standards demand), occasionally frustrating students, or heavy bags of schoolwork taken home each evening — the rewards still somehow outweigh the pain. If there ever comes a day when I stand in my classroom, look at the clock and wonder how many more minutes until I get to go home, I'll know that it is time to quit and look for a job elsewhere, but in the meantime, I get to spend 7 hours each day working in a job that for those 7 hours doesn't really feel like work. And that's why I love to teach!

Maybe I should talk about the joys more often, and vent about the frustrations less, but somehow it always seems like the frustrations are the parts I need to get rid of (i.e. talk about) and the joys are the parts that I treasure but that non-teachers don't always understand.

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