Following Kwizgiver’s lead, here are ten reasons I love being a teacher:
1. I love the kids. I know I’m not “supposed” to love them – they’re not my children, after all – but I can’t help myself. I approach my teaching practice in much the same way I approach mothering; I’m there to teach them what they need in order to succeed in the world on their own. As a consequence, I care about them very deeply. Besides, I needed good grown-ups in my life when I was their age, and I feel compelled to give that energy back to whomever needs it.
2. I get to laugh EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Not only are my coworkers wickedly funny, but the kids regularly crack me up. I have two boys in particular this year who are crazy-funny masters of the perfectly timed one-liners. I love laughing, and I get to do a lot of it with my kids.
3. I get to learn. Every year, I teach at least a few books that I’ve read over and over again. Just when I get to thinking that they have nothing else to offer me – that I’ve mined all there is to think or wonder about them – a kid will point something out in a way I hadn’t considered before. I LOVE that.
4. I get to watch kids learn and grow. One of the true rewards of my job is watching kids who thought they couldn’t do something start actually doing it. The confidence that kids gain over the course of the year with me (us – it’s not just me) is inspiring.
5. I work in an alternative school environment, which grants me a LOT of creative freedom over my classes. I can teach a class on vampires and aliens in literature, I can show Brokeback Mountain, and I can read pretty much any book I can get my hands on with my kids, and that makes all our experiences that much richer.
6. Most – if not all – of the kids in our school are there because they have an art they wish to pursue. As a consequence, there’s art everywhere – kids painting, kids playing the piano or the guitar, kids acting or singing or dancing. I love the energy that kind of creativity generates.
7. I work in an entirely accepting environment. It’s perfectly safe in my school, for ANYONE. The only downside is that the kids who come in hoping to make an impression with flaming pink hair are often disappointed; the usual response to such things is an even-toned, “oh, your hair is pink. Cool.”
8. I have (at least, as of this writing) all the tools I need to do my job well. I’ve got a printer and a scanner, I’ve got websites for my classes and tracking systems to help me keep up with attendance and grading. I’ve got enough paper and pens (though not enough books, but we can’t have everything, can we?).
9. I work with some top-notch, kick-ass colleagues. Every single one of them is there because they want to be. They care about their disciplines, they care about their kids, and they believe in the mission of the school. They are passionate and ethical and riotously funny. I love my coworkers, and I’m honored to be a part of that team.
10. I get to read and write for a living! I get to read all my favorite books, I get to think and talk and write, and I get to share those things with other people. I can’t wait to get up and go to work in the morning, and I’m grateful, every day, that I do the work I do.