“Daddy, I want to be a public school teacher.”
I am confident my 3-year-old daughter, Allie, will make that proclamation sometime before she graduates from high school. One must understand that my daughter has already attended numerous band, orchestra, choir concerts, and honor roll lock-ins at Westchester Intermediate School (WIS).
She also will visit me at school a few times each year. We’ll visit with my students during their lunches and enter the coveted “Teachers’ Lounge.”
Furthermore, Allie regularly joins me on Sundays in my office as I prepare for the upcoming week; she sits at my conference table and ‘grades’ papers and writes down a list of students who ‘got in trouble.’ One Sunday afternoon, she asked me, “Daddy whose cars are at your school?” I said, “Sweetie, those cars belong to my teachers.”
During the four years I have been principal at WIS, I have personally seen my teachers’ determination to help our students learn.
The hard work of a teacher is similar to that of a professional athlete insomuch as students only see the finished performance. Nobody sees the teacher on a Sunday afternoon battling with the layout of PowerPoint slides or grading papers to give our students timely feedback.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary “to teach” means to "impart knowledge or to instruct." It does not say, providing fun and interactive lessons that involve a range of activities, stimulating resources, and modern technology that meet the different learning styles and ability levels of the thirty students in your classroom.
Teachers are passionate about many things: children, learning, their chosen academic discipline, the art of teaching, and life in general. They bring the full force of their personalities into the classroom and spark excitement into the learning process.
While it can be challenging to maintain a high level of passion over the course of a long career, teachers keenly cultivate ways to reignite love for their profession. When students enter the classroom each morning, they can instantly sense that the teacher is there for them with a high-energy enthusiasm that makes learning more exciting.
What about summer vacation?
Summers are a time when countless teachers learn new methods, teach summer school, attend teaching seminars or work on earning a graduate degree. Many teachers I know work a second job in the summers because decision makers in our society undervalue their service.
Still want to be a public school teacher, Allie?
Well, time will tell, but what a proud moment that may be if she says, “Yes Daddy, I want to help children and their families.”