What Makes Me Happy

Teaching is not easy. I know there are people out there that think we have a cushy job, full of vacations and ends at 3pm. To put it simply, they just don’t know what they are talking about. Teaching is a challenge each and every day, but that’s not what this blog post is about. This post is about why teaching makes me happy.

Lately, I’ve been feeling very frustrated at school. We are in a weird transition time between the holiday break and the upcoming winter vacation, which always makes the kids (and a lot of the time, the teachers) crazy. On top of that, we have high stakes state testing coming up soon, so everyone is feeling the pinch. Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself leaving school more and more frustrated every day. Last week, I told my wife that I didn’t think I could do it much longer. For someone who has wanted to be a teacher since he was five, this was utterly devastating. I didn’t let it get me down for long though, smiling and trying to make it through my days, and then coming home and feeling the same again. Until yesterday.

Yesterday, at the very end of the day, I got a visit from one of my previous students. Due to the fact that I’ve moved around a lot in my building, I had this student for two straight years, sixth and seventh grade. She started out as a difficult student, but managed to completely turn herself around and become a hardworking student. She was the sweetest girl, and would play with my two little girls when they were at school. I was so happy that she had turned things around.  Then, she was faced with some incredible challenges. Challenges that changed her life, and made coming to school difficult, challenges that made her whole attitude change again. Still, I knew my good girl was inside.

So, while everyone tried more and more to make her come to school and do well, I quietly supported her. Helping her whenever I could, letting her know that I cared, but giving her my famous hairy eyeball and telling her to come to school everyday. In fact, I didn’t think about it much, it was just how things were between us. I saw her at summer school once over the summer, and told her how happy I was to see her there and that she HAD to keep going. When she came today, she told me that she has in fact been going to school every day, and her grades were decent. She was happy, and doing well. She even asked how my two girls were. I knew that she had turned things back around.

This is what makes me happy: as her teacher, I made a difference in her life. I made such impact that she felt the need to come and see me and tell me how well she was doing. I made so much impact that she remember my two daughters by name. Through all of the frustration of everyday school life, I had forgotten what an effect I can have on each of my students’ lives. I left school today with a smile on my face, and a renewed sense of what it means to be a teacher.

Teaching is more than tests and books, it’s changing lives. So, as you go about your day, think about the people whose life you could be changing. The reality is that whether we know it or not, we are making a difference in someone’s life. In the hard times, remember, that to someone you are a positive change.

Thanks for listening today.

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