“I hate this stupid job!” I cursed after my elementary students left the classroom. It was the end of another agonizing day at work. The children had brutally taken advantage of me – just like they had the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that. I’d been a schoolteacher for a little over a year. I was a fledgling neophyte: fresh out of college, timid in demeanor, lacking in confidence to project an imperious “teacher-voice,” and devoid of experience to implement effective behavior management. I wanted out of this career. A year as a teacher was one year too much. But alas, it was only the end of the first month of school. I leaned back against the chalkboard wall. My legs buckled with fatigue, and I solemnly slid to the floor. Burying my face in my hands, I let myself go completely, and cried. I chose my fate to be a teacher. And now I would reap the punishing harvest I’d sown.
Then I heard a knock on the door. Randall, the school director and kindergarten teacher, was standing over me. He watched me in silence for a few moments, and then pulled up a chair to commiserate. “You want to talk about it?” he asked softly.
I could have expressed so many raging feelings of stress, pain, resentment, and fear. But instead all that came out was a peculiar question. “What does it mean to be a teacher?” I muttered between sobs. And immediately I felt stupid for asking it. I wished I could take it back and exchange it for a verbal onslaught of woeful complaints to illustrate to Randall just how horrible my day was. After all I wasn’t in the mood to have a philosophical debate about education. But it was too late.
I didn’t know that this question – “What does it mean to be a teacher?” – would alter my life forever. I didn’t realize that by asking it, I would activate the first turning of the wheels that would carry me through a prosperous and rewarding teaching career. Randall began: “Deciding to become a teacher to educate school children is like deciding to become a doctor to cure sick people. You would have to be utterly insane to endure the pain and heartache that come parceled with both professions.” … Read More