1. Kids: The kids. The young people I have had the blessing of working with, guiding, mentoring and teaching have lit up the insides of my heart. They have found subtle, soft caverns in my heart and filled them with boisterous laughter. Being with kids all day is a great way to spend one’s time and I miss it! Where are all the kids? Out during the days of the week there are no kids. It’s a ghost land. Working adults attached to cell phones and computers, the world is dull and void of children during the week. I never realized that before because I have always been off with the young people (they have more fun).
2. Every Day is Different: Each new day, as they always are, is different from the one before. One day might be full of testing and the next we’re off on a trip to an outdoor education center. Teaching is fun and malleable.
3. Fantastic Co-Workers: I’ve never met a more giving, devoted, open-hearted, cast of characters, than that of a teaching staff. Teachers are creative, love being with people, have a special knack for putting kids at ease, they’re probably funny, could have a second career as actors, and will work hard, and long, for free.
4. Learning is Fun: Planning lessons for young people, pulling in resources from the past, other teachers, ideas grown in my mind and heart and creating a hands-on, fun learning experience where kids enjoy themselves and learn is terribly fulfilling.
5. Cutting Edge of Education: Being a teacher means constant professional development in education. This means that teachers are always learning, always taking new classes, and know the new trends in teaching and what practices are best for kids. Teachers get people, and how they grow and learn and they are awesome facilitators of this process.
5. Feeling Utterly Used Up: Teaching these days is demanding on one’s time and energy to say the least. Teachers are counselors, educators, strategic planners, collaborators, problem solvers, secretaries, fundraisers, bankers, parent pleasers, classroom designers, nurses, facilitators, cleaners, techies, a jack of all trades: masters of math, science, social studies and English. Where else could one be so utterly used up?
6. Creative Freedom: Though the trends these days are to have curriculum programs that provide educators with the full scope and sequence for a particular subject for the year, this means all the resources, the lessons plans, down to what to say, when to say it, etc, teaching still affords some freedom with how one delivers the content. This means a teacher, like me, may deliver the lesson in a fun, dramatic way, with various accents and voices for different characters or parts of the lessons. Being a teacher allows for fun, creative freedom.
7. Time Off! There are coffee mugs that say, “Three best things about teaching: June, July, August.” It’s true. The reason it’s true is that teachers need that time off for their sanity. I promise. Teachers arrive to work by 8 a.m. usually, many before then. Teachers are on, all day long, with only a half-hour, duty-free lunch, and this hardly happens. After seven years as a full-time educator, I know that most teachers work during their lunch. They are counseling kids, talking to parents, setting up for the afternoon’s lessons, making copies, etc. Teachers work hard and all day. Most contracts when the bell rings at the end of the day. Teachers stay hours beyond when their pay has ended. Teachers volunteer weekends for professional development. Teaching is the only profession I know where people are expected to work for free and they will. A lot. So, having a week here, and a couple of months there, is vital, or else teachers would not only burn out, they would go running for the hills, screaming, pulling out their hair.
8. Health-Care: It’s true. There are great health benefits for educators. I had full dental, and a choice of HMO options, I always went with Kaiser. I had a $20.00 co-pay and could go to one place for all my needs. I prefer an acupuncturist and massage therapist to keep me feeling optimal, along with a chiropractor on occasion, and so I really only used my doctor for female health. And that was a higher co-pay. Turns out, having a vagina requires a “specialty service.” Whatever. Regardless, we all should have good health care. Educators have that one in the bag.
9. The Art of Letting Go: It takes a huge heart and a loving, yet strong being to open their hearts, again and again, year after year, to a new group of kids. It take time to bond. It takes conscious effort. It takes a willingness to see and be seen. It takes playfulness and a good boundary of holding a tight container and getting the job done in a way that serves everyone. Teachers work hard for kids. Then, we let them go. We gather them round, say our goodbyes, give our hugs and send them with our blessings. My heart broke at the end of every year. I worked in 5th grade, so my kids left the building for good. I always say it took from September to December to love them, and then, they remain in my heart for a lifetime. Teachers know the art of bonding and letting go. What a beautiful thing.
10. KIDS: It really is all about kids and what’s best for them. I love teaching because I love kids. Greeting them each new day with their shining faces and open hearts and spending a day playing and laughing and being goofy. Kids know how to play, live in the moment and enjoy life. That energy is healing and contagious!
All photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net