Teaching can be a difficult, but rewarding profession. Maryland educator Deborah Carter shared a letter on an education blog called The Chalk Face to let others know why she stays in teaching:
This week, a girl called me a b***h.
A mom emailed the same day, demanding that her 11th grade son receive full credit for an assignment that did not come close to following the directions (and was turned in late) because, after all, he tried. And a local education reformer on Facebook, whom I’ve never met in person, posted in a public forum that I was a fraud and a union operative.
Ladies and gentlemen, in the world of education we call that “Tuesday.”
Teaching is a difficult and sometimes bizarre profession. And I have to admit that I do check, on the occasional Tuesday, to see how much time is left before I can retire with a full pension. But I don’t do it for the pension. I don’t do it for the two months off every summer, or for the job security, or because I am incapable of doing something else.
I do it for the witty kids who make me laugh and the clever kids who make me think. I do it for Mary, a brilliant, dedicated, and thoughtful student who still can’t help feeling overshadowed by her accomplished older sister. I do it for Luna, a sweet and gentle girl who wants nothing more than to make art and help people. I do it for Chris, whose mom wrote that I was her “hero.”
For every slacker who doesn’t take out his earbuds in class or lift his head off the desk, for every prima donna who doesn’t think the rules really apply to her, for every student who makes me question why I do this job, there are ten who answer that question.
I do it for Oscar, who strode into my class in August and belligerently announced, “You had my brother. You flunked him. He hated you.” It was all I could do to convince Oscar to open a book or compose a single paragraph in his journal, but eventually he stopped telling me I was too hard.
This week, he wrote me a letter. “I have learned how to write a theisis statement,” it said. “Before I could try to write one but it was alway wrong. You teached me how to analyze the question to start off your answer…. I have learn to say thank you to the people who change my life. So thank you. I will see you tomorrow.”
I suppose I could fret because, after 18 weeks in my English class, Oscar can’t spell “thesis.” But you know what? His letter was more than two pages long, and he stayed after class voluntarily to write it. He even got a dictionary from the shelf, and he used it.
And if you think there is the slightest chance of my ever throwing that letter away, you’re crazy.