If you have been reading some of my educational research, you may have noticed a short pause in new material. A new addition to our family created a shortage of time! However, after a 6 week maternity break, I am ready to get back in the saddle… the writing and research saddle, that is.
Moving from one child to two children has been consuming. There are absolute highs when I can’t believe how much I love these two crazy girls, and there are lows when I am not sure I am fit to mother anything (much less a child). And I hear that this occurs with just about every parent out there. Even with these ups and downs, there are still millions of brave parents out there willing to wade through the rough times to get those infrequent high times.
As I thought about that, I realized that this is also true of teaching. Teachers have a lot of crap to wade through. We wake up early, stay up late, work until the job is done, get paid pennies on the dollar, deal with never ending teaching policy, irritable/bored/angry/sick students, deal with politics of teaching, never ending demands from parents, and more! And just like parents, teachers keep coming back for more hardships.
So what is the reward? Why do we do this to ourselves? What is so rewarding that we take these rough times willingly and under paid?
I don’t know if I have a complete answer to these questions. But I do know that the reward of connecting with and helping the next generation brings a joy and fulfillment that is not found in other places. The hope that maybe our efforts will be paid forward and created into something better, is a driving force. I would even say that hope is addicting to those who cultivate it.
Too often we see children and students who aren’t successful. There are few things as painful as seeing a child we work with and love not meet their potential. I have felt that pain myself, and know personally that in those moments our hope for impact is crushed. It can weigh us down. But I also know that as we feel those pains fully and then focus on those who we can impact currently, we will feel hope again. Looking for the small changes we have helped children achieve can help us find the joyful reward again.
So to parents and teachers out there, keep on hoping and working for the better. Your work matters. And then after all of our work, hopefully the rising generation will be more than we can comprehend today. Don’t give up on the hard days. The reward is worth it.