I am proud to be called daughter, sister, wife and mother. But there’s one more title I am so very thankful for.
I just love my job. I feel privileged and lucky that I get to spend each day with kids, teaching them and loving them. I feel special because I get to be their teacher. Lately I’ve really been pondering how lucky I am that I love going to work every day and that I love what I do. I am so thankful that, 20 years ago, when I sat down with my college advisor for the first time that I decided to be a teacher. I had wanted to be a teacher my whole life. I’ve always loved kids, I’ve always loved school and I’ve always loved being in charge. There could have been a million reasons why NOT to be a teacher but I did it anyway because I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I am so thankful.
Education is a rough career to be in at the moment. We have people “in charge” making decisions for us teachers that are, frankly, ridiculous. They have no clue about teaching. None. We are required to do more and more and more testing and more and more things that are not in the students’ best interest. We feel vilified and treated as though we are unprofessional. It’s astounding to me that the powers that be choose to focus on those who have dedicated their lives to children. It’s sad and, unfortunately, it’s making people dislike their job or not choose education for a career at all. That, my friends, makes me so sad. Because they are missing out on the best part of teaching.
They are amazing. Truly. Kids get a bad rap these days with all of the discussion of bullying and mean girls and everything else related to kids. But I’m here to tell you, kids, in general, are wonderful. They are kind, thoughtful, loving, funny, smart and intelligent. They have great ideas, they are hard workers and they just want to be loved. My 8th graders are like puppies. They are all arms and legs and awkward and so lovable. They are still little but big. They love to play games and will do anything for a Jolly Rancher or extra credit, but they are also figuring out the dating scene and dealing with some major issues at home. I know my face lights up when they walk in the room each day because I am truly glad they are there and I am truly happy that I get to teach them. It is a gift.
When I made the decision to go back to the classroom after seven years of teaching online, I was nervous. Was I too old to relate to the kids now? Was I too tired now that I had kids of my own to be the kind of teacher I wanted to be? Would they still like me and my class? Would I still like them? All of my fears were unfounded because I forgot the most important thing. I love kids. And they know it. And that’s all there is to it.
I wish I could tell anyone who is thinking of going into education that, if they feel it in their bones and are passionate about making a difference in the lives of kids, they should go for it. Do it. Sure there are many things about education that stink. The pay. The stress. More and more requirements from the government. Feeling under-appreciated and overwhelmed. Crazy parents. Frustrating kids. I choose not to focus on all of that other crap and focus on the best part. I get to spend each day with kids who are sweet and funny and figuring out the world. Kids who choose to eat lunch with me once a week. Kids who stop by my room in the morning just to say hello. Kids who bring me treats just because. Kids who ask how my weekend was and really want to know. Kids who want to talk movies, books, divorced parents, sports, anything and everything. The fact that I might make a difference in their life, in a small way or a big way, fills my heart with joy.
Yesterday, our language arts teachers delivered letters to us. Students were required to write a thank you letter to a teacher who made a difference in their life and tell them why. I was humbled to receive a few. They made me cry, honestly. To know that students feel good and look forward to coming to my class because of me, to know that they feel loved and appreciated and cared for, to know that they know I am here for them no matter what, and maybe they learn a little math in the process, is a wonderful feeling. And I feel so very blessed to have chosen this life for myself.