I have been teaching since the beginning of the 1993 school year. I taught at my first school for six years as a casual teacher, securing blocks in Music, History, Support and English, predominantly. My next school for three months, as a casual teacher with a block in History. And then I received my first permanent appointment at my current school (April 1999). In 2008 I took six months Leave Without Pay and worked at another school as an English teacher, before returning home.
During the last twenty three years I have said that I was resigning too many times to count. Many times coming very close. Thank God for the old adage sleep on it.
The politics, the ever increasing workload, stricter and more frequent deadlines, increasing emphasis on quantitative results, increasingly more violent and depressed students, executive chasing their tail, the list goes on.
Who would want a job that takes over their life? That is so misunderstood and disrespected by the broader population? Where two days are neve the same and nothing is ever predictable?
Only the insane. And the idealists.
I am both.
Staying in teaching has not been an easy journey for me. But it has been rewarding.
I love being in my classroom. I always have. My threats of resignation (reminding myself that I have choices and control over my life) have never been about the kids. They have always been about standing up for what is right and/or politics in administration at the school and/or systemic level.
There is no greater feeling than building a real connection with the faces in front of you every day. No greater feeling than when you see students broadly smiling as they race to your classroom door, asking excitedly, What are we learning today? No greater feeling than students calling out I love you as they race to their other classes. No greater feeling than the look of recognition as they finally understand something and start to believe that they aren’t dumb. No greater feeling than when they don’t want to lose their connection with you after they have left school.
The real reward for choosing teaching as a career has nothing to do with HSC or NAPLAN results, or how many students make it in to uni, or how much value adding we have achieved.
No, the real reward lies in knowing that every single day we are making a difference, a real difference, in the lives of our kids, and ultimately in society, because we inspire them to be, and to want, more than what currently is. The real reward lies in the soul connections that are made. The connections that last eternally even when contact is lost.
The real reward in choosing teaching as a career is the relationships that develop, and the opportunity to make a real difference in a child’s life.