Why would anybody want to be a teacher? Let alone a middle/high school teacher? Aren’t those kids awful? I couldn’t do it! Teenagers are so disrespectful nowadays! They’re so entitled! How can you stand it? Especially when you know you’ll never make any money? NO WAY!
If you’ve been a teacher for more than five minutes, I’m sure you’ve heard some version of this rant, whether from a friend, family member, or even a stranger who wanted to give you their two cents about your chosen profession. I have asked myself some of these very same questions in moments of crisis or despair.
Here’s the truth:
Yes, I am crazy. Yes, I think I can change the world. Yes, I enjoy being around kids (most of the time). Yes, I knew I wouldn’t ever get rich doing this job. Yes, sometimes I cry in the parking lot. Yes, teenagers can be disrespectful, and entitled, and mean (so can most people by the way).
Yes, I’m still a teacher.
I went to Texas A&M, and we have a saying- “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.” That is a spot-on way to describe teachers vs non-teachers.
If you’ve never seen a kid’s eyes light up because they finally understood something they had been struggling to learn, you can’t fathom what that’s like. You’ve never had a kid cry and hug you and thank you because they finally passed their state assessment for the first time, ever, so you can’t imagine what kind of payment that is to a teacher’s heart. If you’ve never realized that the disruptive kid is just acting out because he doesn’t recognize what love and caring is, then you would just see the disrespect and entitlement.
For me, the joy of teaching is truly the kids. I have NEVER wanted to leave a job, or cried in a parking lot because of the kids. It’s always been the administration or parents or colleagues or too many meetings or unrealistic expectations that have caused that. I think true teachers realize that, no matter what the jerk principal or jerk parent or jerk colleague does, the kids still need us. Even if it’s the kid being the jerk, it’s usually because they need us the most.
Don’t get me wrong, I can argue with you all day about how stupid it is that people who play a game or act make 57 times more than we do. I’d like to see any one of them come and sub in a classroom, then realize how much they will be getting paid, and watch how fast they walk out. This job isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, your heart will take the biggest beating! You have to be called, and I think that’s why teachers put up with so much other nonsense and keep fighting the good fight. It’s in our DNA.
So here they are, the top three reasons why, after 20 years, I’m still a teacher:
- It’s great for my ADD. I’m all about fresh starts. If you want a fresh start every year, heck, every day, this is the gig for you. When a lesson falls flat, I get to try again. When a particular group of students is tough, I get a new group the next year. Had a bad day? You get to do something different tomorrow.
- Teenagers are HILARIOUS. I cannot tell you how many times the wit and humor that comes out of these kids has knocked me flat.
- The reward isn’t monetary. It’s all about the FEELS. 🙂 The smile on a kid’s face when they get it. The discovery of the love for reading when they find the right book. The excitement when they learn something, and they thought we were just “messing around”. (Sometimes you have to sneak the learning in!)
Those are my top three. I’m sure others have different reasons, so share them in the comments!