According to my friend Danielle, tomorrow (Monday) is World Teachers' Day, a day supposedly designed to recognize the hard work teachers put into educating the children of the world and the impact their involvement has upon the lives of those children.
Blah blah blah.....
My big question is where's my gift?
But seriously, we certainly spend a lot of time talking a good talk where teachers are concerned, but when it comes time to actually backing it up, we're a little less generous. The paychecks teachers take home rarely seems to truly compensate them for the hours they put in. It's a rare day when I don't leave school with work to do at home, meaning I am often working 10 or more hours a day. When we have issues with students, it is unusual to find much support from parents. We are constantly challenged, criticized, and called on the carpet for trying to do our job in the face of increased hostility and apathy. A few weeks ago, someone commenting on an article in the local paper actually had the audacity to say that teaching wasn't an intellectually challenging profession and therefore shouldn't be paid more in compensation for the additional hours many teachers put in.
If it sounds like I'm complaining, please ignore it because the truth of the matter is that I love my job even if I sometimes feel underpaid and underappreciated. For all of those moments when I get discouraged, there are so many more moments filled with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Maybe it's the sight of a group of freshmen lighting up when they realize that the prediction they made about the story is about to come true. Maybe it's having a group of students arguing over whether or not Hamlet is insane (and regardless of his sanity, he's a douchebag for the way he treats Ophelia). Or maybe it's having a student in speech class come to you for help in answering a reporter's questions after a tough volleyball loss. Or maybe it's the glee a cast of kids finds in learning about the ecphonesis "O" . Or maybe it's staying a little later than anticipated on a Friday afternoon because a senior needs some college advice....or having a student you helped find the right school last year e-mail to thank you for leading him to his dream school where he now has a leading role in a college production.
When I chose teaching as my career path, I knew I wouldn' t be pulling down big bucks. I knew I was kissing my dreams of a BMW good-bye. But I also knew that I was accepting a whole new dream -- one in which I get to help change the world by teaching our future how to read, write, act, speak, and think. It is worth a mountain of BMW's to hear a student just say "thank you" or tell you that, of all the teachers in the building, you are the one she'll miss the most. Who could ask for anything more?
But seriously...... I wouldn't turn down a BMW.