Teaching is not my first career. And it's not a piece of cake. There are things about it that I enjoy: the lesson planning, the delivery, and I know this sounds kind of corny - but I really love those light-bulb moments when students really get a concept or a skill. When something they've been doing finally makes sense to them - when they start connecting it to other learning, or to real life. When they can start applying it. Sometimes it's as obvious as if a cartoonist has drawn it - kind of a Diary-of-a-Wimpy-Kid moment. Sometimes it's not quite so obvious; the understanding and learning shows up in homework and tests. I'd be lying if I said those moments happen all the time in the classroom - I wish they would happen more often. I work for them to happen more often. But, more often than not, they happen at home, or later in life (oh, that's what my teacher was talking about....)
What I don't like about teaching is documentation and never-ending paperwork. I don't like the having-to-prove that what we're doing in the classroom is what we're supposed to be doing. I don't like being micro-managed by administrators and district higher-ups who have lost touch with actually being in the classroom - who forget the day-to-day. When I first started teaching, my husband was surprised by the amount of work I brought home from school on evenings and weekends. He asked why I couldn't get it done while I was at school - after all, I was there from 8 till 5 everyday. What he'd apparently forgotten, was that I was in front of students teaching most of that time. The grading, the planning, the parent contacts and bulletin boards and record keeping all had to be done outside of the school day.
Truthfully, in the fifteen years I've been a teacher, the record-keeping part - the documenting and disaggregation - and the micromanagement have gotten worse. Classroom management is more difficult. Not to mention the added stress of high-stakes testing...a subject that carries issues all it's own. I don't know that I could be a new teacher in the midst of today's public school expectations. There are many times when I have to weigh those light-bulb moments against the sheer burden of everything else. I want to do something else. Often.
And then I hear that phrase But if you make a difference in just one life...
About two-thousand years ago - on this day - Jesus was mocked, tortured, put on trial and sentenced to a horrible, painful death. He was innocent. He did it for me - just one life.
Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."
Luke 23:43 NIV