Monday, December 28, 2009

Who would ever want to be a teacher?

Not me. I never wanted to be a teacher. I don't even have one of those special teachers in my past that I strive to emulate.
My mother taught.
My grandmother taught.
But me, I wanted to write, not teach. That confession in my first teaching-job interview changed the expression on my interviewers face from interest to: "You'll teach in my district over my dead body." Oops. (Turns out that's exactly what happened. He's gone now. After twenty years of teaching, I'm in the district that took a pass in the first round.)
If ever a career were a calling, teaching has been mine. Somewhere along the line I noticed that I was happiest around children. I like to play. I also like to learn new things, read, laugh, hang out with people who are real. I like feeling young in mind and spirit. Teaching does all of that and, in spite of all the crazy nonsense we juggle, that is why I stay.
A recent gallup poll says that teaching is good for your well-being, since teachers rose to the top on four out of six well-being indexes on the poll conducted from July 2008 to June 2009.
So what's to like about this job? When I talk with students who want to be teachers I stress that this is a dynamic profession. No two days are alike. Heck, no two hours are alike. Change occurs at a rapid pace both within and outside the classroom. It isn't for everyone, though. Those who like to work toward an identifiable end-product are going to be dissatisfied with the work that is less obvious at my end of the scale.
In the junior and senior year of high school we don't make the serious leaps that are clear in the early years. We don't teach somebody how to read. But, if we're lucky, we can make readers out of non-readers. We can make somebody believe that they can write.
I've had other jobs so I can attest: there aren't many like this one.
Hey, come to think of it, this job is an amalgam of all the others: secretary, bartender (in terms of controlling wildly out-of-control clients ;-), full-time mom, news reporter, copywriter, waitress, announcer, researcher, editor.....