This week is Teacher Appreciation week and my sixth year of teaching. When I went in for my interview, I walked up to the receptionist’s desk and she said, “Wait a second, I need to write you a late pass.” I looked at her confused and said, “Um, I’m here for an interview.” She said, “Oh my gosh! I thought you were a student…I’m sorry!!” I laugh every time I think about that. While I may or may not still look like a teenybopper from high school, it’s been six years since I’ve been a full-time teacher. Six years later (I’m still such a baby in this profession!) and I still love what I do. Why? Here are the reasons:
- I have the opportunity to impact students positively every day.
For eighty minutes each day, and sometimes even longer, I have the opportunity and what I consider to be a privilege, of pouring into a student’s life. I have a responsibility to teach them, yes, but I have an opportunity to do more than that. My class can be a bright spot in their day or even in their life. For some students, my class may be a safe haven. A place where they are accepted, encouraged, and challenged. These kids are basically entrusted into my care for that time. It’s an awesome opportunity.
2. When a student “gets it,” it’s the best feeling ever.
Picture this – you’re teaching something over and over again. You have gone over it what feels like a BILLION times. You might even feel ready to pull your hair out. You have demonstrated the concept in every way possible. Through the use of technology, in small groups, acting it out,
singing it to them, creating a choreographed dance number, …you get my drift. Still, nothing. BUT, you decide to try again. As you go over this concept once more, you see the lightbulb going over. The flash of recognition over that student’s face. The nod of the head. They finally got it! That’s worth something! That to me, is super satisfying and reminds me of why I became a teacher. To TEACH and to have a student understand.
3. I work with great people.
I love the people I work with. They make it really easy to get up every day and come to work. I never get up and say, “Oh man, don’t want to see those people again…” and that’s really important to me! I am with my colleagues for a good portion of the day and working with people I love makes it feel less like work. We are a family. Albeit, sometimes a semi dysfunctional and weird family, but still.
4. I love the subject I teach. Like…LOVE.
I teach Language Arts. I love teaching this subject because I believe so strongly in the power of being able to express yourself through writing. I believe in the importance of reading often and regularly.If you are a good reader and/or writer, you can be an awesome articulator or communicator. There is power in that! If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of reading (yes, I’m totally making this a teachable moment, it’s the teacher in me #sorrynotsorry), click here and here.
5. The students I teach will be our future teachers, decision makers, and leaders.
They are literally the future. YES, I know we all know this. But do we really know it? I mean, think about that. Marinate on that thought. Soak it in. Now are you terrified just a little bit? Just a tad? Or are you excited and confident that they will build for us a better tomorrow? I want to teach these guys and teach them well. I want them to learn Language Arts, absolutely, but I also want them to be contributing members to society.
6. It means everything to me when I know I made a difference in a student’s life.
Sometimes teachers have the opportunity to receive positive feedback or to hear words of encouragement from a student. When it happens, it is AWESOME. It doesn’t even have to be super deep or philosophical. The simple statements mean just as much to me – “You’re really helpful. You helped me understand this topic and it was really difficult at first” or “I really like this class. Can we stay here all day?” Those statements make my day! Because I know that I’m not some superstar master teacher person. BY FAR. I can be naggy, annoying, ridiculously corny, and impatient. Because I am a human. I think that’s why it matters even more to me when a student says something kind. To know that I made a small ripple in the ocean of their life means something to me.
7. Because I am doing what I am called to do.
You’ve heard the saying, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Here’s something else, “Pursue what you’ve been called to do, and you will feel fulfillment.” That’s how I feel when it comes to teaching.
Are there parts that I sometimes don’t like? NO, NEVER. Just kidding. Of course. In a world that sometimes likes to throw teachers under the best or undermine what we do or the importance of what we do, it can be challenging. But I remind myself WHY I became a teacher. Not for the paperwork, the test scores, or anything of the sort. Not for all of the acronym types of assignments and tasks. Not for a paycheck or summers off. For the student. At the end of the day, that’s what it always comes down to. Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Week!