Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ain't nothin gonna break my stride...

Thankful post #5 (it's been awhile) 
Today I am thankful for my job.

Sure, some people may teach because they get summers off. Some people may teach because they think it's 'easy.' Why do I teach? I hope it's why most teachers teach. I teach because I seriously have a passion for what I do. Although the kids can drive me crazy, the make me laugh at least once a day.

I have a relationship with the class as a whole. They know when they can push me and when I'm about to lose my mind. They can tell by the tone of my voice or by a look on my face when I'm going to be funny, be serious, or be pissed off. A few will warn the others with a simple, "Shhhhhh..." One of the class clowns might throw in a quick joke that they know will make me laugh. They can tell. They know me.

And I know them. Each one of them. I can tell when they haven't eaten breakfast, or when they are at Dad's place instead of Mom's. I can tell when a parent completely embarrasses them in a conference. I can tell when they just need a positive comment or a quick conversation to let them know that I'm rooting for them. I can tell when they're about to do something they're not supposed to, or if they just did. I can tell when they're lying (most of the time), or when not turning in their homework really wasn't their fault. I develop relationships with all of my students.

I teach because I make a difference. The thing is, I can't often tell that this is taking place. My end result isn't necessarily tangible. I don't see the final sale of a product or the look on a satisfied customer's face. These kids don't come up to me at the end of the year and tell me, "Gee, I sure did learn a lot from you this year. Let me count the ways..." I get something even better. They show me that I made a difference by begging one of their parents to drive them back to their elementary school just so they can visit me. Year after year. And when they can drive themselves, they do. Sure, this doesn't happen with every kid; it doesn't even happen with most. But I've been doing this for 8 years and I have students that come back, year after year, even when they're in college.

I know I make a difference.

I look at what the state is doing to education in these difficult times. I see friends of mine losing their jobs; friends who have the same feelings that I do about why they do what they do. I find it disturbing that the cuts go directly to the classroom. I see how the cuts are affecting students and I can only imagine the long-term negative effects they will have on students. With all of this, I am still thankful that I do what I do.

The reality is that I'm lucky. I'm lucky because I've found a career that I love and that challenges me daily. I'm lucky because I love what I teach, who I teach, and where I teach. I have administrators who back me up and respect that I know what I'm doing. I have parents of students who pull for me when they hear I might be displaced to another school. I am well-respected and I've worked hard for it. Which is great, because I'm not planning on going anywhere anytime soon.