There has been a lot of negative press over the past few years about teachers, their working conditions, their pay, their performance, yadda, yadda, yadda. In fact, when I graduated from Appalachian, I had plenty of people asking me if I was crazy for going into the profession at this point.
It is so easy to fall into that trap of negativity as an educator on the days that we feel undervalued and overworked. Especially in the midyear slump. But there is an underlying ideal behind all of the crazy banter, the students who make me want to pull my hair out, and all of the “extras” to teaching that overwhelm my day.
And here it is: I get to do this.
Talk about a punch in the stomach. Somedays I wish I could do anything other than my job because those days are really that bad. But those days are normally few and far between. It is easy to fall prey to the chatter and the negative morale that can plague our profession at times. But it’s time for me, as an individual, to put a stop to that in my own little bubble.
Why, you may ask?
Because my job is a privilege. One of the greatest privileges I can imagine. Here is just a glimpse at the things I get to do and be each day as a public school teacher:
1. I get to impact the next generation by teaching them skills that will take them far past their high school diploma.
2. I get to be Teacher, Mama, Daddy, Social Worker, Nurse, and Care Taker every day. Yes, even in high school. Sometimes my words are the only kind ones they hear all day. And they tell me so.
3. I get to show kids how they should be treated (with respect) and how they show treat others (with the same respect).
4. I get to inspire them with stories– fiction and nonfiction– from around that world that will stay with them for years (or a few minutes, and that’s okay too).
5. I get to see students smile and laugh. This is not something that happens often in their day once they go home.
6. I get to share the joy in learning that I have.
7. I get to watch kids grow as people and as students. There’s nothing like watching that lightbulb flicker on for the first time!
8. I get to stretch myself in the different areas of my profession.
9. I get to teach students the importance of giving back– no matter where they are in life.
10. I get to be God’s Light to those around me, even if I can’t tell them about Him directly.
Ten things, plain and simple. And that’s just a start. But I can’t imagine how much better I would be at my job if I read this list to myself every morning before I started my day. If I could push out all of the negative thoughts, the “I have to’s” and the “But I don’t want to’s”, and the temptation to do things the “easy way”… I would be an even better teacher.
I am certainly aware of my imperfections, of my inability to walk in this optimism each day, and of the brokenness of the system, but I also know that I am blessed to be where I am.
For those of you reading who are teachers, know that I am praying for you this weekend specifically to hold on to the privilege and honor you have in being a teacher. Know that you are appreciated– even if it isn’t said. And remember that we get to do this. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.