Two people walked into an elevator at the mall. The casual conversation of “what do you do?” happened. One responds “I am a teacher.” The other replies “ugh, good for you. I wouldn’t be able to do that. You make no money.”
Yes, that does happen. When you are a special education teacher, you get the best responses when you answer that question. Just tell someone that you are a special education teacher and see what happens. I usually get a scared look/grin with the reply “oh…good for you. That must be hard. I would not be able to do that.” Of course that does not happen all the time, but it is the norm.
Yes, there are many people that think teacher is an easy gig. Yes, we only work 9 months of the year and get holidays off. Yes, we are only required to work between 8 and 4. But, how many teachers actually do that? Many of us haul thousands of books home when we go home for supper at 6:00. We eat and get back to designing some ground breaking lesson (that may or may not go off without a hitch/happen the way we dreamed it would). Many of us also work through the weekends. We go to conferences and take professional classes during the summer to continue to stay up to date on all things education. Many of us also spend much of our own money to buy materials for our students, classroom and school. Some even hold a second job to make ends meet.
So why do we do it? My main reasons are: to help a child learn that they can succeed and fulfill their greatest dreams; make them realize that the only limit they have are the ones they hold against themselves; and that they can easily overcome their limits with much work, dedication and perseverance.
Yes, teaching is not an easy profession. We deal with angry co-workers; teacher lounge gossip; angry parents; crying students; outbursts; ever changing standards and education laws; jammed photocopiers when your room is filling with students; broken technology when in front of the class teaching; standardized tests; days without a bathroom break; and cramming a year full of learning material into nine months. Even though that all happens, we still continue to return to school in the morning, guzzle down our caffeine before students enter the classroom, put aside our personal problems and step onto our stage as the students enter for another day of learning. Why do we do this? It’s the hugs and waves you get when you see students in public, the light in their eyes when they grasped a concept, the smiles when they see their success and the tears you get at the end of the year when they say their good byes for summer. We do it because every day we continue to make a difference. It may not be a difference on our checkbooks, but it is a difference in a student’s life that will impact their future lives forever. That is what makes this crazy profession so worth it in the end.
You want to make a true difference on the world? Teach.