“Every day that I feel like giving up, something happens and I’m reminded that I make a difference.”
This message from a teacher friend of mine came last week. Her statement captures the experience that for many of us is teaching.
Teaching is hard work. To do it well takes time, and effort, and commitment. It’s easy to focus on the challenges—a student who isn’t making progress, a parent who thinks your assessments are too hard, a system that often requires us to define our children by a grade or test score.
We can feel discouraged. When things aren’t going as well as we planned, we take it personally. Good teachers practice reflection and that means that we consider what we’re doing and how we could do it better. And often that means that we work even harder.
When tired or frustrated, how many of us have considered giving up and doing something else—maybe a job where you can actually go to the bathroom in the middle of the day or have an entire weekend off? Late at night when you’re grading papers or on weekends when you’re preparing for next week, it’s hard to see the value of all of this hard work.
Does what you do every day really matter? It does, but unfortunately, you may never know how much. Teaching is one of the few professions that doesn’t allow its practitioners to see the results of their efforts. Farmers have harvests, pilots have landings, and attorneys have rulings, but teachers often never know the impact they’ve had on the lives they’ve touched. Sometimes it’s hard to keep going. And then, something happens that lets us know that what we do matters. And sometimes that’s what we need to keep going.
During this week of teacher appreciation, you may get a post on Facebook like this:
Or a card like this:
Or from a student, parent, or administrator a heartfelt
But this week, and every week, what I really hope is that something happens and you’ll be reminded of the difference you make.
As for us, here's our simple way of saying thank you: