Why do I do this?

Why do I do this job?  Why do I do this job that is constantly attacked?  Why do I do a job that requires me to spend my own money?  Why do I do this job that emotionally and physically drains me?

I do it.  I do it because it also fills me.  I do it because it fills me with love.  I do it because it fills me with passion.  I do it because it challenges me on a daily basis.  I do it because it gives me hope and keeps me going. 

I do it because…

My freshman year adviser in college told me I should find a new career path.  She said I was not cut out to be a teacher.  Teachers need to be interested in all subjects, she said, and I just didn’t show enough interest in her class.

Let’s not even focus on how she was constantly canceling class, showing up late, or sending someone in to give us directions for our class.  It was a rough year.  Living several hours from family.  Years before I recognized my own depression/anxiety, but looking back I now know that I was extremely depressed.  Unengaged.

Listening to her, not becoming a teacher, didn’t cross my mind.  Even in a very difficult place, mentally, it never occurred to me to walk away from my dreams of teaching.  I have always wondered why….I am thinking it is because of all of those other teachers and mentors encouraging me in the past.

It gives me hope that the one year I spend with a kid building his/her confidence and guiding his/her learning, will help them.  I get them for only one year.  But maybe it is enough.  Enough to make a permanent difference.  Enough of a difference to get them past the neigh-Sayers they will inevitably encounter.

That is why I do it.

I do it because…

Today, during a PD with the Illinois Writing Project, a college freshman came in to share her writing with our group.  I had seen her around this building, moving furniture, reading and writing.  She is working as a custodian until she leaves for college next month.  It turns out she is a writer and received a writing scholarship.  When our leader asked her to come in and share some of her writing, she agreed.

Wow!  Out of all experiences I have had in the last few weeks, this is one that will stick with me the most.  Yes, her one 130ish word sentence was beautiful and well written.  However, it was her passion for writing and her story that, even now, brings on tears.  She told us about how in third grade a parent came in and did a creative writing talk.  She explained to us how that was when she realized she loved it.  That was when she realized she was good at it.  Third grade!  And now she off to a creative writing program in college, with exciting plans for her future.

This is why I do it.

I do it because…

At the end of this past year, on the last day of a very difficult year, a parent came up to me to thank me.  He shook my hand and thanked me for everything that I did for his daughter.   He didn’t usually pick her up from school, but he made a point of not only picking her up, but shaking my hand and thanking me.   He said that she learned from me, that I impacted her.

That is why I do it.

4 thoughts on “Why do I do this?”

  1. Agreed. The road is rough and the pay is lacking, but I wake up believing that I am making a difference and I see those faces and their trust and love and I just want to work all the harder so that each and every one of them “gets” it, whatever it is that day, week, month. We impact lives and that matters.

  2. Great blog post! I agree…I do it for so many reasons also. I should write these down in my writer’s notebook and then when there is a rough time, I should pull it out to remind myself WHY I AM A TEACHER. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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