Jan. 31st, 2014

columella: (columella)
I really needed today.  Lately I have questioned if I wanted to continue teaching - especially high school.  The frustrations can be overwhelming at times.  When I started teaching (15 years ago) I LOVED my job.  I was excited to go to work every day.  But lately I have felt like I have been worn down like a rock in a river.  It sounds whiny, but I have felt unappreciated.  By students, by parents, by the administration and by the other teachers.  And it is a bit whiny, some of it is very true, some of it is build up of frustration.  I have felt my passion slipping away.  I have put less effort in to my teaching because of it and I believe it shows.

Which is why today is so important.

Today I got to spend time with some former students who reminded me why I do what I do.  Who are self confident.  Who have achieved (or are working on) their goals.  Who have stuck to them even when things haven't gone the way they would have liked.

Any who insist I am the one that inspired them.

Now, I know it is not all me.  They are the ones who have put in the work and are making their lives successful.  I don't take credit for that.  Yet, if I have been able to be some small part, a cog in the machine that has brought them to where they are, then what I am doing is truly worthwhile.

YOU inspire me.

I needed this.  Thank you for returning the favor.  Thank you for taking the time to SAY it.  Keep going after your goals, your dreams.  I have great faith in you and revel in your success.

For everyone else out there - if someone has been a positive influence for you, remember to tell them.  It may sound simple.  You may think they know.  But nothing replaces you saying it.  And I am a little biased, but especially say it to your teachers.  Those who have not taught, do not understand (although I know many of you try) how challenging teaching is.  And one of the biggest challenges - especially in today's culture - is the lack of appreciation.  So many think teaching is something you do if you can't do anything else.  Or that you teach so you can have the summer off and get out of work early.  I work longer hours than I ever worked in the 10 years of office work I did before I became a teacher.  I have to continue with my own education - for the rest of my career.  This isn't a "get your degree and that is the end of it" kind of job.  I have to renew my certificate every 5 years which requires constant classes/training.  And the state is always adding requirements on top of that.  I have to get training to teach students who don't speak English as their first language.  I have to get training on teaching Special Education students who are placed in my classroom.  I am expected to give input on every IEP for those students.  I am supposed to call home every time a student is not achieving - I have app. 150 students every year.  That is a lot of phone calls.  And they can't be made during my work hours as parents are at work at those times.  So much for getting out of work early.  If I am going to connect with my students I need to attend their games when they play sports, and their performances if that is what they do.  I seldom eat lunch at lunch time because someone needs my time.  I not only help students with their work, I counsel them when they are having trouble at home, or with another student, or have broken hearts.  I help them print out their work for other classes.  I write letters of recommendation so they can get into college.  I advise multiple organizations because our clubs and sports are what motivates many of our students to stay in school.

And I love doing all of this.  But like that rock in the river, it wears you down.  I begin to feel tumbled along.  I begin to wonder why I work so hard.

And then a day like today happens.  Then you get reminded why you work that hard.  Your motivation returns.

So thank you.  Thank you for helping ME be the best teacher I can be.  Thank you for reminding me why.

Now, we all need to pass it on.

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columella

January 2014

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