As I consider returning to school next week, I must confess my first reaction is to groan at having to wake up so early and keep a regular schedule again. It’s easy for teachers to get bogged down by negativity at the beginning of the school year; it can be difficult to see through the the fog of administrative minutiae that pollute the first weeks of school . We all dread those seemingly endless meetings about everything that might go wrong this year. We wonder how many helicopter parents we will have stirring up dust this year. We worry that we will have whole classes of Vlads, Dracos, and Maleficents. We see acres of papers to grade and projects to evaluate piling up in our futures. We know we’re facing new edu-jargon to incorporate into meaningless reports and lesson plans. We remember that our salary is not quite what we think it should be for all of those little extras everyone seems to expect.
Wait…How many more years until I can retire?
That’s when we have to remind ourselves why we teach. No one teaches because it’s easy. No one teaches to get rich. So as I prepare to return to school each year, I remind myself exactly why I do teach. I believe that education is the single most important positive force in the world, and I want to be part of that. I’m a high school teacher, and I love teenagers. I teach English, and I love literature and language.
I promise…This is a positive post!
When I start to feel overwhelmed by the trivialities of my job, I recall students with whom I’ve made connections over the years. I remember one who told me he graduated from high school because I believed in him enough to challenge him. (He had planned to drop out.) I remember one who told me I had recommended to her the first book she had ever read for fun. I remember several who shared troubles with me that I hope I was able to lighten. I have so many students who have enriched my life that thinking about them, I never want to retire.
My point here is not to say I’m awesome, but to say to teachers starting a tough year that teachers are awesome, to remind parents and students that the teachers you encounter this year are (probably) teaching because they have something to share.
What’s the best or worst start of the school year story you have?