Sunday, April 10, 2011

No Offense

I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday.  He was saying that it was a shame that his sister with two master's degrees is considering becoming a teacher.  "No offense," he said.  Sure, none taken.  After all, she can earn a salary many times greater than that of a teacher.

My current teaching job is the first job I've had that I can honestly say that I love.  (Apart, of course, from being a stay-at-home mom to Molly.)  Last year, when I found myself needing a job after my marriage tragically ended, I thought about different careers.  Definitely the teacher's schedule is a huge benefit, especially to a single parent.  I also considered my skills.  I enjoy thinking about math and physics concepts (somewhat a rarity, I believe), and I also think that I am able to communicate those concepts somewhat well (also a rarity, perhaps).  So, I believe that teaching math and physics is what I was created to do for this time in my life.  It is a joy to be able to earn a good living doing what I'm called to do. 

For me, teaching is also exhilarating.  Sure, there are days that it is difficult to get excited about going to school, and there are class periods that make it feel like I'm battling to get the class on-board with learning.  Then there are the times where a student stays after school, and we work together to travel from total confusion to mastery of a concept and then she nails it on the quiz.  I love the challenge of teaching a difficult Algebra skill to the learners that struggle while at the same time increasing the rigor to capture the interest of gifted students.  It is a privilege to be a role model and a trusted confidant.  I take seriously the responsibility of being a role model and try to treat others with respect and live a life of principle.  It is also a calling to wake up at night troubled by a student's situation outside of school and to be able to pray and believe that my prayers will make a difference.  I've felt compelled to apologize to a student after considering a comment I made that may have been misunderstood and been hurtful.  I hope that the experience of having a teacher apologize is a learning experience for that sixteen-year-old.  I remain consistent in having high expectations for my students knowing that will benefit them in life.  I joke with my students about the excitement of doing math, but it isn't always just a joke.  When a lesson goes really well and students are engaged and learning, there is a euphoria that makes me grateful for a job that I love.  So honestly, my friend, there is no offense taken.  The blessing of living out my calling surpasses any accolades that I can receive from an outsider.


Briah said...

Emily--awesome blog! I think your outlook on teaching is awesome. The fact that you're excited about what you teach is enough all on its own, but you seem to put your whole self into your job--amazing! I wish I could say that I had a lot of teachers with your passion for it. We need more like you! Miss you, say hi to Molly for me, please!

Julie said...

So very well said, Emily. I've always thought that I had the best job in the world (as a teacher), but not for the reasons some of our critics might think. Rather, for the reasons you have so eloquently stated and for the sheer pleasure of helping a young person to grow in so many ways. I'm sure that you are a big blessing each day to your students.