I can't even begin to explain how annoyed I am when people tell me how "lucky" I am to be a teacher. Don't get me wrong I LOVE my job. I wouldn't do it if I didn't. But for people to be jealous of teaching as a career because of my vacation time is something that really bothers me.
Teaching is just like any other job. I have paper work to fill out, a boss to kowtow to, and a task that needs to be completed. It's just that my job happens between September and June and not all year long. Yes, I get a week off around the holidays; yes I get another week in February and one in April; yes I have to summer off. I understand that not everyone gets this much time off and I'm not saying I'd trade it in but it isn't something to covet.
Most jobs are 40 hours a week and done. I work 40 hours and then some. I come home and plan lessons, grade papers, and stress over my students. My job is my life. I chose this as my career and therefore chose this as my life. If that isn't something that another wants to do so be it. I don't want to work in an office building or in a cube.
The phrase "those who can do; those who can't teach". How about those who teach can do everything. Yes I teach. I teach middle school students the difference between a noun and a pronoun and I explain away gerunds and infinitives as if life will test them on these things someday. My students understand the difference between a colon and a semicolon and when to use them. My students also understand that in life we don't always follow the rules of grammar and until the grammar police start existing that it's OK. I teach my students to pick apart single lines of poetry then I make them write their own. I have my students read Shakespeare before it's required in my district. I make them get out of their chairs and act. I make them stand and stretch and I make them sit in silence while that one kid is taking forever to finish his test. In terms of things a teacher has to do, again, it's everything. I spend my day being an English teacher, a mom, a sister, a friend, an enemy, a nurse, a therapist, an entertainer, and a disciplinarian. How many people have had to practice a lockdown procedure, in case of nutcases showing up in the building, only to have one scared kid look at you, fully knowing it's practice, and say, "what happens when this is real?"? You can see the hurt and fear in their eyes and all you can say in return is, "We are prepared for the worst but I can assure you it will never happen." How many of you would risk your life for a coworker? I would put myself in the line of fire if it meant protecting my students. It's something I've thought about. I would sacrifice myself for them in a heartbeat. Someone has to.
I watch students go through teen pregnancy, drug/physical/sexual abuse (them and their family members) and yet I walk into my building everyday and I smile. I try to remind and teach my students that they can make themselves something even when everyone thinks that they will be nothing. I show my students that even if you grow up in less than ideal conditions you can still follow your dreams. Hell, I show them that you can still have dreams and goals. I am the most stable part of my students lives. If a teacher on my team is absent the students are off the wall. The only structure they know has crumbled and they don't know how to handle the change. I am depended upon by not only my superiors but my students and I drag myself in even when ill to be with them.
I come home with the funniest and saddest stories. I hear and learn about things that I never even knew existed. I laugh at least once a day because I am entertained by the lives of teenagers.
I will never understand the jealousy people have towards teachers. I don't feel jealous of those who work a "normal" job. I love what I do. I have to power to change the world. I have the power to make a difference with the next generation and generations to come.
Don't envy me. Envy my students. Be glad that they have someone who loves them and wants them to do well. You'd love to have me teach your children.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
The idea of home is something I contemplate quite often. I once cross-stitched as sampler: Home is where the heart is. Cute, huh.
If you think about it the saying is true. Home really is where the heart is. Think of all of the people you love and how you feel when you enter their house. I have many friends whose houses I am very comfortable in; I love them dearly and I don't feel like a guest. Same for my family. I can be in an aunt or cousin's house and I feel at home.
I haven't lived in my childhood home for some time. In fact my childhood home is now my aunt's mother-in-law's home. So unlike some of my peers I don't go home to the place I grew up. I don't see my old bedroom unchanged over time. I'm glad. I can go to the house where I grew up and spend my time with my aunt and uncles and cousins and I feel at home. Their second floor apartment was as much my home as the apartment on the first floor. My father lives with my step mom in a different city but I know what no matter what that is my home. I haven't ever felt displaced although the idea of home has had to change as I've gotten older.
When I first moved into my apartment it didn't feel like home at all. The smells were all wrong. All of my important things were packed away. My cat wasn't even here the first night I stayed. It was terrible. I've slowly turned this into my home. I have all of my belongings organized and I buy myself fresh flowers once a week when I go grocery shopping. I have my cat here and although he may be obnoxiously crying at me when I'm not focusing on him I love to have something waiting for me every night. I walked into my apartment a few days ago I plopped myself down on the couch and I looked around.
Home, I thought. This is home.
This is where I will entertain friends and family. This is where I will plan my lessons and complete my school work. This is where I will sleep after long days of work and home. This is where I can do whatever I want whenever I want. I love this.
It's good to be home.