More than a handful of times during the past seven years, I’ve had a former student come back to visit from college and tell me that they were now considering a career in teaching. Every time, I want to say the following:
Are you… sure?! I mean… don’t you wanna… maybe… look into something that might get you a ‘real’ job? :)
I also think to myself,
Good Lord, Sweet Jesus, please tell me this had nothing to do with me.”
:) Which of course it never does… except when it does:
I kid, of course. I am not high enough on myself to seriously believe that I’ve actually inspired anyone to become a teacher… but if I have, I swear it was by accident.
But I think I’m only halfway kidding when I say that we, as teachers, sacrifice ourselves to our profession so that, collectively, we can help these kids get a good education… so that they can, in turn, go out into the “real world” and get “real jobs”. 1
(And I want to make sure I clarify the following without burying it in a footnote: OF COURSE I believe that teaching is a “real” job.)
I explained2 this to a student of mine during morning tutorials earlier this month, and they retorted that if every kid went on to get a “real” job, then there would be nobody left to teach the next generation of kids to help them get “real” jobs. :)3
But on a serious note, this often does leave me feeling conflicted.
On one hand, teaching is an incredibly important profession, and we do need more able-and-willing young talent pursuing careers in the field.4
On the other hand, I am also intimately familiar with the the demanding and consuming nature of our profession, and I simply hope that any young person thinking about following in our footsteps would fully understand the levity of that which they are considering.
I truly enjoy my job. I hope that much is evident to anyone who has been around me these past seven. Anyone reading this that may be intrigued with the possibility of becoming a teacher should know that the blessings are immense.5 Yes, our job is a hard one, but [almost] nothing good in life comes easy.
As I have seen written by another fellow teacher: Being a teacher is not just a job — it’s a calling.
- Of course, some of us are in it for the money. Kidding. For real this time. [↩]
- Vented, rather. [↩]
- Kids are amazingly insightful, nay? [↩]
- I have heard others say that “teaching is the most important profession”. That is one assessment towards which I have conflicted feelings — there are a LOT of important professions in this world — but I hope the following is indisputable: we need good teachers. [↩]
- Also, all of the kids that have told me that they were pursuing teaching were, in my opinion, capable and cut out for it. [↩]