Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen the above meme circulating around social media. It lists many of the things that teacher
endure do on a daily basis. At first glance, it doesn’t make teaching seem like the idea career choice. I mean, let’s be real, being a teacher is HARD work. People love to talk about all the days we have off, but most of the time, teachers spend their “off” days still working. Not to mention there are of many of us who work second jobs in order to supplement our incomes. During a school day, any true teacher knows that it is next to impossible to get any of the other duties of our job completed. That includes but is not limited to, communicating with parents, planning for future lessons, etc. And if you are a special educator like me, you have IEPs to write and goals to track. There is never enough time in the day!
From that opening, you might be wondering why do it then? For me, I love working with children. I love to see the “A Ha!” moments when a student figures something out. I love to see a student learn something new or accomplish a goal. There are days when I think to myself, what were you thinking?! But those days are few and far between. I have only been a classroom teacher for the past five years, but I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher. In elementary school I developed a love of reading. I could spend hours lost in the pages of a book. I can still can, when I find the time!
My sixth grade teacher made me want to be a teacher. Her name was Mrs. Derrick and I was convinced that she knew everything about the world. She was beautiful and kind. I can’t remember her ever raising her voice for any reason. She had this calming aura about her that even when I think of her to this day, I feel happy. Fast forward to my senior year of high school and I was able to work as a student teacher with Mrs. Derrick. I loved it! The discussions that we had about books. I was amazed at the things that the students knew. It was a no brainer that I was going to college to get my education degree.
BUT we all know that the best laid plans just never happen or however it goes :). Off to college I went and because of family pressure I became a business major. I went to work in the family business and was pretty good at it. I got my MBA and started my own event planning company. There was always something missing. Finally, I decided that I wanted to get back into the classroom working with students. I went back to school in order to get my teaching license. I got a job working as a paraprofessional and once I had my license, I landed my first teaching position.
Initially when I went back to school my focus was early childhood education. The thought of molding tiny kindergarten minds was enticing to me. UNTIL… I was a substitute in several kindergarten classes. I developed a different level of respect for kindergarten teachers. It takes a special person to mold those tiny minds. Then I worked in special education as a substitute and realized that I’d found my calling. Helping students reach their goals and giving families the support they need became my driving force as an educator. So, the working more than sixty hours per week and endless paperwork is worth it. When I see the smiles on my students’ faces or the student who has been struggling write a complete sentence independently, it is worth it.