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The national teacher shortage is worsening with each passing day. The life-long, 30+ year teaching profession is a phenomenon that is nearly extinct. Teachers have more work and higher expectations now than ever before. Students study a more rigorous curriculum and have less time for physical and creative activities. Despite this change in curriculum and scheduling, standardized test scores are not improving.
As you can see, there is a lot of negativity surrounding the teaching profession and school communities today. It is easy to become entrenched in the bad news stream. In order to combat the negativity, I would like to share the positive, humorous, and joyful aspects of teaching that make the bad days a little less difficult.
Watching young minds grow
At the beginning of the year, children come to you with little to no knowledge of the subjects and concepts you are prepared to teach. Nine months later, however, they have learned a host of new words, concepts, and skills to take with them to the next grade or step in their lives.
As a kindergarten teacher, I have witnessed children begin the year not even knowing the letters in their own names. Through hard work, confidence, and curiosity, however, they are reading and comprehending on a 2nd grade level by the end of the year. Such a transformation can bring you to tears – I mean make your allergies worsen.
A child’s capacity for learning is incredible and inspiring.
It is a gratifying and humbling experience to enrich the lives of others, especially children. Click To Tweet
Experiencing constant excitement
Children are in awe as they discover new words, skills, and the way the world works. They are excited to speak and read in class. They are incredibly proud of their work and remind adults what it is to have unwavering confidence. They love to ask questions, especially “Why?” I don’t mind answering the never-ending questions because it shows their immense love of learning.
The joy of filling a bucket
Many teachers start the school year off by reading Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud. The book teaches that positive words and actions fill buckets and make people feel good while negative words and actions achieve the opposite effect. Teachers have the chance to fill their students’ buckets 180 days a year. They do this by meeting academic, social-emotional, and physical needs that may not be met at home or by anyone else. Teachers encourage learning and creative thinking through lessons and play. They provide opportunities to learn and practice treating others with kindness and grace. Furthermore, they often provide food and always provide a safe space. It is a gratifying and humbling experience to enrich the lives of others, especially children.
Feeling the love
There is no better feeling than when a child tells you that they love you. A child’s love is unconditional and given freely without reservation. Even though I was a virtual teacher this year, the students in other face-to-face classes would shout my name, wave enthusiastically, and go out of their way to give me a hug or a high five. To a student, you are a rock star, and there is no one they would rather see. Their compliments, hugs, smiles, and words give you the strength to keep going even on your toughest days.
Seeing your impact long after the school year is done
You’ll see your students outside of school in the grocery store or at a restaurant. After they get over the initial shock that you don’t actually live at the school, they may hug you or shyly smile. They may tell you how well they’re doing in the next grade or what they loved most and remember from your class. Talking to past students and seeing the great things they are accomplishing after your time together is done is a wonderful experience. It proves that each day you showed up for them was worth it.
Teaching has its ups and downs, obstacles, and days that leave you empty and exhausted. However, the heart-warming and soul-enriching benefits far outweigh even the hardest days.
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