Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Loving the Teaching Life

Teachers are in it for the outcome not the income. ~~Unknown

Today’s challenge forces me to question what I do. Why do I do it? Why am I a teacher? What is it about teaching that fires me from the inside out? What is it that I love about teaching?
            Yesterday’s post was about teacher evaluation. This one will be too, in a way. I believe in teachers being self-reflective, in evaluating themselves and their motives for continuing on as teachers. If we can’t say we love teaching, should we still be operating in that capacity? Anyway, I digress. What is it that I love about teaching? There are a few things, actually.
            First and foremost, I love my students. They inspire me and make me strive to become more effective and engaging. I care about them and the struggles they have and the victories they win and the situations they’re dealing with that may seem overwhelming. I love my students and honestly, I think they know it.
Image courtesy dnacharge
            Another thing I love about teaching is the collegiality I experience in the workplace. I share a common thread with others in this profession and I truly enjoy sharing lessons learned, new teaching strategies, and successes and failures alike with my in-person colleagues and virtual ones via #edchats. I find the #edchats incredibly beneficial to me, connecting me to fellow teachers in my state and others who share a commonality—love of teaching, students, and technology. I love sharing with these virtual friends all things teaching and being challenged by them to raise my standard, to engage students more intentionally, and to strive to use technology in a rigorous manner. If you’ve never experienced an #edchat, open a Twitter account and involve yourself in that community. You won’t regret it (check out #ndedchat, #gfedchat, #westedchat).
            The final thing I’d say I love about teaching is summer vacation. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit this. However, I don’t think there’s anything wrong in admitting it. As much as I love my students, teaching is draining.  Teachers go full steam ahead for nine or ten months, planning for, connecting with, and teaching students. Yet it’s more than that. It’s the emotional toll teaching takes as we watch kids we care about struggle to find housing; to pay the rent; to help support their family; to make costly, destructive choices; the list goes on. Many times we feel helpless, unable to give students what they really need. Instead we offer them a safe zone, a secure place to be, a place where they don’t have to worry about being judged or criticized for what they wear or whom they appear to be. Creating this environment and relationship with students exacts a price on teachers. That’s why I love summer vacations. It’s a time for me to recharge and re-energize myself so when August rolls around, I’m ready to rumble in the classroom.
            So that’s what I love, in condensed format. What about you? What do you love about teaching? Think about it. Live it. Show it. Mean it. Guaranteed the kids will know it. Guaranteed.

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