I have done work in construction, retail, and even fast food, but nothing has truly worn me out quite the way teaching has. It is similar to playing a sport in a sense, because although you might be in shape, it doesn’t mean you’re in basketball shape, tennis shape, or baseball shape. Teaching is a unique field, one that provides stresses and rewards of its own.
Though the mental drain from teaching is one I noticed never to get accustomed to, I believe that the way around the stress lies within the job itself. There are times where a teacher just wants to scream at the top of their lungs while pulling at their hair, but it’s also that hour later, when you have just taught a student a new word or strategy that brings a calm to all that madness.
I have been lucky enough to work amongst teachers who have once taught me, and one of my teachers once expressed to me if he thought he had treated all of his children good. He told me that many teachers do not realize the power they obtain – the power to influence and change a child’s life. And there, in the computer room I once sat in, he asked, with his new group of children around him, whether he treated all of his children right.
I pondered on his question for some time throughout the day, and my answer to his question was that it did not matter – for in comparison to all of the lives he changed for the good, including mine, whatever mistakes he might have made did not amount to the positive deeds he has done. As a teacher assistant, I could only wish be half the educator he still is.
But his question was beyond personal, and one that has changed my outlook on the career, and on my approach with my students. I don’t just want to be that angry stern teacher, or the teacher that only wants to get the job done; I want to be that teacher that kids take from, knowledge and character. I want to give them a piece of not only my mind, but my heart.
I wish more teachers would take time to listen to their students, listen to their problems and even their silly stories; most times they lack the attention at home. My mother, who I am also so fortunate enough to teach amongst, answered some questions I once asked here, questions such as, “How do you make your students respect you so much? Why do they always ask for you? Why are they so well mannered and polite?” Her answer was given within a simple sentence, “Because I take the time to listen, I let them know I care.”
That is what many teachers lack, that connection to their students, that bond beyond educator and student. When I interact with my students, I like to play around and joke, I like to provide them with some type of entertainment; many may disapprove and believe it unprofessional, but I’d much rather connect with my students on a deeper spectrum than one based solely on professionalism.
*Article originally published in Nassau County's Community Journal*