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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Why teach?

I was recently asked why I was a teacher.  Here is my response:

I kind of fell into teaching-  The classes I was taking in college were not leading the direction I wanted them to go.  A lot of the classes I took were in a building shared with part of the education department, and I noticed THEY got to do all the things I was hoping I would get to do.  I had visited with my adviser once about it, then gone back in a second time with some follow up questions.  She was working on something while we talked, and at the end of our conversation she said something along the lines of "You're all set!"- she had already transferred me and changed my major. 

That was the moment I became a teacher.  While it may sound like the decision was made for me, I already knew that was what I wanted to do and here's why.  All too often I see and hear people say things like "you will never be happy with your job, just pick something you can stomach that pays good money and do it".  From what I had seen and later experienced this did not seem to be the case with this bunch of educators.  They (we) truly loved what we were doing.  Suddenly homework was FUN.  Class was FUN.  I was learning all kinds of things and really enjoying it.  Then came student teaching, and while I may not have left from that every day from school with a smile, I was always excited the next morning to be back at it. 

So there's the why: because I truly love what I get to do for "work" every day.  Why do I love what I get to do for work every day?  Easy- its awesome to see students working at developing a new skill- to see the failures and the successes, and to be a part of something that will hopefully be useful for the rest of their lives.

ON THE OTHER HAND... I did NOT become a teacher to listen to the lady in front of me at the checkout whine about having to buy pencils and papers for her students.  "Isn't the TEACHER supposed to supply this stuff?!" REALLY!?  Must've touched a nerve because I had to say something.  I'm pretty reserved and as my wife says avoid confrontation at all costs, but I couldn't let it slide.  I very politely struck up a conversation with her, during the course of which I was able to let her know how much money has come out of my own personal pocket (and much, much more out of my wifes pockets) on things that I'll never be able to get refunded for. 

Thats part of teaching, it seems.  Sad that it has to be that way, but it is.  The tax deduction doesn't even begin to cover the out of pocket expenses I think most teachers incur the first couple of years of teaching.  I get the feeling that the "pendelum" is starting to swing back, that there is hope on the horizon.  Things are going to get better.  Its going to take a few years, but if I've made it this far through the worst of it, I can make it a few more, right?

Here's to a new year, starting on Tuesday.  Hoping it will be a great year, excited for new things, sad for losses from last year, but ready to get busy and do my thing!

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