You Have Arrived As a Teacher...
From someone who worked as a P.E. teacher, an after school teacher, a tutor, and a coach for roughly twenty years
When you enter the profession thinking you're going to have a three month summer vacation just like when you were a kid, but you don't because you're teaching summer school due to the need to pay bills and the rent.
When you buy paper, pencils, and other supplies from your own money because your students can't afford them.
When you're up late on a nightly basis grading papers and tests and making lesson plans.
When you find yourself keeping a stash of food in a classroom closet because every so often some of your kids don't have breakfast due to their families' lack of money.
When you stay after school, giving extra help to those who you know need it.
When you're on school grounds well into the evening due to Open House and Back-To-School Night.
When you're praying that nobody has ran off every time you count heads on field trips.
When students give you every excuse in the book as to why they didn't do their homework, when in fact they were just too damn lazy to do it.
When you find yourself quite annoyed on Pupil Free days, due to the kids getting the day off while you are forced to waste your time at in-service sessions with people who don't know what they are talking about - I always hated those days.
When you're on the phone with parents every night because their kids are failing math or have disrespectful mouths.
When kids curse you out and call you vile names in class.
When a kid flips you off when you tell him to get back on task.
When you're breaking up brawls in your classroom.
When you're calling the school police because a student threatens you with bodily harm.
When a student throws a chair at you and gets off scott-free when, during his expulsion hearing, his mom pleads in tears to the school board - incredibly enough, a colleague of mine has actually had that happen to her.
When you send a student to the principal's office for the first time.
When you catch a kid copying off someone's test paper during an exam.
When the parents of your worst students, the thugs, the gang-bangers, and the stoners who of course don't want to learn because they're stupid, live in an Egyptian river - "the Nile" - and blame you for their failures.
When you get sent disciplinary memos for not wearing hard sole shoes or a button-down shirt and tie.
When after twenty years of top-notch, award-winning service, your school fires you after one bad evaluation - someone told me of that actually happening.
When you're marking off the days in anticipation of all the school vacations and the last day of school.
When a straight-F student whom you've worked with all year improves by leaps and bounds and gets A's and B's - a perfect example of hard work paying off.
When you get cards, candies and presents during classroom parties every Valentine's Day, the day before Christmas break, and on the last day of school.
When students who were once yours come back to visit years later, with you marveling at how much they've grown.
When you're teaching the children of students you once had, which freaks you out.
When a student gets a crush on you.
When you get so-called "Teacher's Pets", who always help you out with various things - not that there's anything wrong with that.
When you're told by your class, or by individual kids, that you're their favorite teacher.
When you celebrate with your students when they get their college acceptance letters, especially - come on, be honest - when they get accepted to your alma mater; I always feel ecstatic when I hear that an ex-student of mine got into UCLA, I admit it.
When your students wear that cap and gown at graduation, and you feel pride with the knowledge that you are one of the reasons they're getting that diploma.
When you realize that despite all the problems and troubles - bad kids, low pay - it's all worthwhile because you're making a difference in young people's lives on a daily basis, which is very satisfying.