It’s my twelfth year of teaching. My dream job. The only job I’ve ever pictured myself doing since I was in the 2nd grade.
There was a stint where I thought pediatric nurse might be my calling. Not sure why- but it was short lived. I quickly rekindled the passion for teaching and have been here ever since.
There is a common denominator with the two career paths I saw myself being successful with, committed to, loving, and enjoying.
You guessed it- the kids.
They are just awesome. Funny. Kind. Thoughtful. Eager. Forgiving.
Who wouldn’t want to spend their time with kids all day?
I get greeted most mornings with terrible jokes that are just so bad that they are hysterical.
I get little notes all of the time placed on my desk. Sometimes it’s a drawing, or a thank you, or a meticulously ripped piece of paper that represents something important to the creator.
I get birthday treats delivered weekly, almost daily. Someone is always celebrating a birthday, a half birthday, or just a treat they brought in. We press the celebrate button and we dance and smile and celebrate another year lived. (Sometimes we do it just because we want to dance or share a laugh and a smile.)
I get to ask questions, answer questions, and sit and watch kids working together and figuring things out.
I get to read books and share stories. I particularly enjoy the shouts of protest when I say we need to pause at the end of a chapter. Sometimes I’ll even give them just one more page if we can squeeze it in and I relish in how the kids just lean in and look and listen intently as if they just got the best gift ever.
I get to help kids solve problems and develop their own strategies to help them handle conflict, stress, anxiety. I get to calm down the big emotions and help them process.
It’s the best job really. Who wouldn’t want this?
I have to write these things down so I can remind myself when I lie awake at night with those knots in my stomach. Or when I’ve tried every strategy I know and even some that are new and I still cannot figure out how to best help a child. Or when things keep changing, piling on to an already overflowing plate. Are my eyes bigger than my stomach or is the chef continuing to send out course after course with no end in sight? Probably a mixture of both. A conversation with the chef is in order as I work on my self control.
Sometimes I find myself staring, silent, lost in thought as I contemplate my life choices.
It’s been happening a lot lately. Too much.
Which is why spring break is so welcomed right now. Perfect timing. Just enough to get me to the end of year.
And yes, teachers have summers off because if we didn’t, there wouldn’t be any teachers left to do the work of a year long job in a nine month span.
Why do we do it? Because the kids matter. ALL of them.
The ones in my room now, the ones who have been in my room before, the ones who will be in my room in the future, and the ones I get to see outside of my room.
The ones who know who they are and the ones who are still figuring it out.
The ones who are constantly making poor choices and the ones who learn from their mistakes the first time.
The ones who look different, think different, and behave different than what society defines as “normal”.
The ones who come from families and homes like mine and the ones who have a different environment.
The ones who have had the best experiences and the ones who have not.
I don’t get to pick and choose and I most certainly don’t want to. They ALL matter. Sometimes I think people lose sight of that. Sometimes I lose sight of that.
It’s easier for me, though. I have the kids close by to remind me- wave their arms in front of my face to snap me back to reality. I just need to listen to the kids and then I’m good. Centered. Refocused. Invigorated.
We just need to listen.
It is all for the kids (or at least it should be!) But it is a very draining profession. I hope your days into spring break are smooth sailing and you get the rejuvenation that you (we all) need
Teaching is a lot of work and those not in the teaching world don’t know how much we put into a day. The stresses we have for our students and the work we are expected to do. We all love our students because each one is special.
This is such a passionate post – Thank goodness for spring break and summer. Otherwise how would we do it really?
Hey to a fellow year-twelver! I can connect with so much in your post: those celebrations and hilarious moments with students makes the job worth it, but especially mid-career, it feels like there is SO much to accomplish within the day. I feel like the plate has gotten incrementally bigger (or we get better at stacking them?) but yes, the chef has to send out less food. Or we have to turn it back!
This is so beautiful! I love your celebration of children, and love how you’ve bookended the challenge of teaching with the joy of getting to work with kids. This is a post I want to print out and reread every day. Your students are so lucky to have you!
Beautifully written and an important reminder.