I’m not teaching this year. It would be the start of my 7th year, but it’s not. Instead I’m 10 days away from going overseas to do a Masters’ degree.
I usually read posts from other teachers with some interest. Usually I find something I really like. But what’s burning my ass pretty hard is reading posts in the education tag about how fucking excited teachers are because their kids are “omgsoawesome”.
My advice to all of you: Keep it in check - the year is young.
I wrote this in June, when my year was wrapping up:
It’s true, you will work harder as a teacher than you ever imagined you could. Leaving school at 11pm, and returning at 7am is nothing short of awful. And doing it on a regular basis makes it so much worse.
You will feel like no one notices the work that you do (and I can tell you that more often than not, they don’t). Volunteering your time doesn’t usually feel like volunteering. It feels like forced labour; if you are doing it for the kids, though, you won’t mind.
You will feel more empathy than you ever thought possible, and you will want nothing more than to see your students happy and healthy. When they mess up, you take it personally. When they succeed, you won’t take credit, but you’ll know that you had a part in it. When they come to you for help, you can’t help but be there for them because you care for them more than you ever thought you could.
You will be frustrated all the time. Frustrated with kids who don’t finish their homework, and frustrated with parents who expect miracles, and frustrated with administrators who just don’t get it, and frustrated with colleagues who tell you how “easy it was” when they started teaching.
At best, you won’t be able to leave your work at work; at worst, you will only go home to sleep and shower and get food for the next day.
But let me tell you: It is ALL worth it.
Teaching is not the kind of job you can do half-assed. You’re either in or you’re not. And once you get going, it’s really hard to not be “in”.
Sure you spend a ton of time planning and prepping and marking and doing other administrative stuff. Staff meetings are terrible; parent-teacher interviews sap you of your will to live. But when you get up in front of that class, and deliver that lesson you spent hours on, and it works? It is the best feeling.
Having a classroom full of kids who are hanging on to every word you say because you’ve made something as mundane as Economic Systems in Canada and the US interesting is a great feeling. Kids getting excited about reading is something to get excited about!
All of the administrative bullshit is worth it at the end of the year when kids are excited to be in your class the next year. It’s worth it when a parent thanks you for everything you’ve done for their child. And it’s absolutely worth it when your big tough high school boys come up to you with tears in their eyes and tell you that you changed their lives.
Is it hard? Absolutely.
Are there days when I wish that I had chosen something different? Yes.
Would I trade it for any other job in the world?
Keep your chins up, new teachers. But keep your expectations in check.
It ain’t easy, but boy is it good.