Having just vowed not to blog but to get down to some real writing – ie the bloody book – I stumbled upon this old thought about teaching and even though it’s not the end of the Summer holidays (but Easter break beckons) there are some things worth remembering here about this really quite noble profession.
This Teaching Life
It always happens about half way into the long summer holidays, the pains and joys of the last year having subsided, the terrors and fears of the New Year begin to threaten the horizon. Yes, I am a high school teacher. And right on cue, it seems I dive for the classifieds looking for alternative career paths. This is the time I look at B&Bs and Pubs across the country and wonder if we could make it work. I consider exotic foreign (well paid) postings and day-dream about retiring – alas, still too many years away.
But what I’ve done this year, as well as my regular desperate search for ways out of the profession, is compile a list of the things that make it all worthwhile. In most matters in life, especially such things as work and such impossible things as Education, it’s best to see the glass as filling up, not draining away. It helps focus my mind on the good things about teaching and kids: of which there are many.
- Two of the best texts I’ve come across in recent years have been through student recommendation. Jess R reviewed Donnie Darko in such an intriguing way that I was compelled to watch it. Heidi C insisted I read The Lovely Bones. I delayed and delayed, until after she had finished school in fact, but when I finally read it I was blown away, as she knew I would be.
I am reminded that students teach me things too.
- The best poetry I have read in years was by an anonymous Year 12 student whose writing gave me goose bumps with her exquisite handling of language and subject matter. She was better than I could ever hope to be.
- I couldn’t stand Tim in year 9 and I had written the worst report of my life for him. But he became the intellectual giant of my year 10 class and has signed up for my Senior English class this year. I can’t wait.
- Seeing the light of understanding come on – Tony Q when he saw Media Watch and A Current Affair and saw exactly how the media manipulated the truth
- Having the plumber turn up to fix the hot water system and finding he loved Macbeth five years ago with you, so you’re guaranteed a good job
- Having kids smile and wave at you, shout out Hey Swiftie, whether off the back of a bus, in the mall or the gym
- Having kids change lines to be in your class
- Having kids list your class as one of their favourites in their valedictory book
- Knowing that while you don’t connect with some kids, with many of them you do make a difference
- Knowing that there’s a lot of rubbish in Education but that in the classroom it’s still about relevant information, being entertaining; plus a consistent set of expectations and consequences
- Remembering that 95% of kids just want to be liked and get on with their lives. School is a necessary evil for most of us.
I know that teaching is an undervalued occupation in society these days and yes, I’d like more money but being with young people on a daily basis gives me great hope for the future. There are some wonderful, intelligent, generous, kind, funny, caring teenagers in this country (Australia and the UK) and it is a cliché, but teaching can be a rewarding job where you do make a difference.