Teaching, passion? Pleasure? Heartache? Supplement to income?
Ain't it the truth!
My journey to teaching came by a circuitous pathway. I always knew I wanted to teach, but the demands of a busy life, lack of funding and other impediments left me without the necessary degree to do so. I have found it to be ironic that as a college instructor I can teach public school teachers, but if I wanted to be a public school teacher, I lack the credentials to do so. Strange isn't it?
If you watched the old movie "Mr Holland's Opus" back in the 1990's, Mr Holland, played by Richard Dreyfus, wanted to be a music writer and live in the world of this art. Instead, his wife becomes pregnant and they need him to pay the bills, so Holland imbues his students with his love for the craft and even though he continues to write, life gets in the way. When he finally retires, the entire school is there with alums from many years past and they play his "opus" for him, the one he created and set aside over the years so he could teach. Every time I watch this, I cry. Glenn Holland is a hero in his own life and he never realizes until he reviews it from the perspective of his students.
We all need good teachers, teachers who life wiith purpose and meaning and communicate that zest for life in the ways they teach their charges day in and day out. Not all teachers are so well loved and honored in this way,That is the travesty of having to work at something you are not passionate about, just so you can get by, but not really loving what you are doing. Apparently, Mr Holland did love what he was doing as he communicated that passion through his teaching. He just did not know it at the time.
I recently took a poetry class online and my teacher introduced himself as a "poet who happens to teach". I can respect that, he is truthful. I introduced myself as a "teacher who happens to write poetry", and he went ballistic! He believed I was insulting his comment, whereas I was merely stating the truth. Teaching comes before writing and just about everything else. He did not understand that there could be people who love teaching because he believed all English teachers are frustrated writers.
Then there are those tenured professors who HATE what they are doing and just plod along making many of their students miserable. Case in point: on my daughters first day at the University of Florida she entered her science teachers classroom and heard his rant about 'how he HATED teaching undergrads and this was his last year and he was retiring!". Well, he should have not been allowed to teach! If we are that dis-enchanted with the classroom, we need to move along and offer up that spot to someone who is eager to lead the way in the course!
With the recent union busting bill in Wisconsin many of us who teach have felt scrutinized and minimized as professionals who give our lives over to imparting knowledge to those in need of instructors. If anyone teaches at any level with the expectation of making a "good living" they are sorely mistaken. Teachers do NOT make high salaries and the money they do make is not equal to the amount of work they do. Teachers do not just stand in a classroom and read the textbook (ok, maybe some do...but clearly they are not passionate about their work). There are many hours of grading, class prep, emails, and student meetings with students, or parents (in public schools) they must attend off "clock". It looks like an easy job, but do not kid yourself, it takes time management skills and self starting coordination in order to be a success.
There are jobs where you will find poor, mediocre and exceptional workers, teaching included. I have overheard the student gripes and the educators heartaches and have lived some of my own, and it is not a choice for just anyone. Lawmakers have no idea what it takes to takes to be a good educator: patience, hard work and dedication to the craft of teaching. As in many industries we must keep up with continuing education, reach out to students with empathy and do our best to live within the financial means we are provided.
Those who CAN teach....or at least try to when forced up against a wall by changes others make who have no idea what they are doing. Sounds like those lawmakers need to go back to school and learn a thing or two.