Educators Are Lucky

[This post is in reaction to the incredible pain we are feeling in the School District of Philadelphia right now. We are facing down massive cuts to our schools, and with those cuts will come layoffs, and teachers and students both stand to lose unless things change very soon. But despite that, school ran today. The kids showed up. The teachers honored the trust placed in them and taught well. Learning happened. On some level, it was the best reminder to what we do and why we do it as I can imagine.]

At 6:30 this morning, I was on a field with fourteen young men, practicing a sport we all love.

At 9:00 this morning, I watched a group of students work with a teacher as they worked on a robot they were building.

At lunch today, I sat with a student and her advisor and looked over financial aid packages from the various colleges she was accepted to.

And this afternoon, I watched a group of kids performing Shakespeare in an 11th grade English class.

In between those events, there were emails answered, phone calls made, a memo or two written, but more importantly, there were lots of conversations with students and teachers, some light and fun, some serious. It was, in other words, a typical day at school.

We need to understand how precious that really is.

Most people don’t have the kind of days teachers have. Most people don’t have a chance to pull a student aside and make them think or care or wonder. Most people don’t laugh as much during the days as we do. Most people don’t cry as often as teachers do. Most people simply don’t feel as much as we do.

And many people have to sit in offices, which I did for a few years — school is more fun.

This isn’t to say the job is easy – it’s not. The point isn’t that we get our summers off or anything like that. Teachers work hard at an incredibly emotionally and intellectually challenging job every day. But we need to remember a few things:

  1. No one made us do this.
  2. We don’t have to keep doing it.
  3. We aren’t the only people in the world who work hard.
  4. We get to hang out with kids all day long.

We need to keep these things in perspective, because we do no one any good when we perceive ourselves to be victims or martyrs. We need to own that we made the decision to teach and keep teaching. And it was a good decision to make, because as hard as we work, and as ridiculous as some of the policies being imposed on schools are, we stay the lucky ones.

We get to teach.

8 thoughts on “Educators Are Lucky

  1. Chris,

    If you’re feeling so blue – as one of the few/only? 1:1 schools in your district – how must the other principals be feeling?!?

    Regardless, it IS great to be in the best profession in the world, at a time when there are so many incredible opportunities for learning! Our students have probably never had it so good (because they’ve probably never needed us so little).

    Or have they?

    Great reflection and reminder, Chris!

  2. Very powerful and so true Chris. I did the office job for 10 years before deciding to become a teacher. I have seen both worlds and I would never go back to my old way of life. I have a passion for what I do, even on the most challenging day. We are blessed to work with kids and be inspired everyday. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. THANKS for all that you and other educators do. If it was not for educators, of which my mother, stepmother and stepsister are, I would not be the success that I am today. Again, THANKS to the educators of the world for all that you do.

  4. These are some great words! There are days that I truly wonder why I became a teacher, but I try to remind myself of what is possible for my students. Our district is such a emotionally draining place to work but I refuse to let it get the best of me – I want to stick it out and try to make it better.

  5. A great reminder that we are blessed to be in a profession where we can make such an impact on people and the future. No matter what happens around us or to our profession, no one can take away our conviction in doing what’s best for kids while loving what we do.

  6. This is truly a good reminder of how well educators do their jobs. I never did Shakespeare in 11th grade, though. But I wish I did. But your insight was powerful.

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