What do I love most about teaching?
I love that two years ago a 7th grade boy with Asperger's Syndrome walked in to my room and told me that writing was his nemesis. That boy is now a freshman in high school, not my student anymore, but still sends me regular revisions on the Russian spy novel he started writing for a NaNoWriMo unit in my class last November. His dad is a PE teacher and smiles when he sees me in the hall, telling me that I'm a miracle worker because doctors once told him his son would never be capable of complex writing.
I love it that at a meeting for a girl student who has suffered untold tragedies, she told her therapist and the gathered support staff that she has discovered writing as the best way for her to heal. She thanked me for giving her the freedom to write about what hurts.
I love it that there is a girl who thinks of me as her second mom, and even though she's a sophomore now, she still comes back to visit and share good books and talk about life. I'm grateful that she gave me a second chance to be an important person in her life, even though I kicked her out of my class during the first week of her 7th grade year. I will never lose touch with her because sometimes kids adopt adults, and she's not letting go of me.
I love it that at any given moment in a classroom of 27 students, there are ten who look up to me as a role model and genius, seven who think I'm boring, five who think I'm evil, and three who accidentally call me "Mom" or another teacher's name. I love it that those numbers and the kids who belong to them change every single day.
I love it that my students trust me with their writing, their deepest thoughts. Whether it's a kid asking advice on coping with divorce, a descriptive essay about being bullied for picking boogers in 2nd grade, coming out of the closet as an atheist, or heartbreaking poems about a crush; they trust me to respect their secrets. They know that I have to report the serious stuff and get them help, but that I would never betray them. It takes time to earn that trust, and I'm grateful to have the same students two years in a row so I can nourish it. I love that some of them are embarrassed to say hi when they see me years later because they wrote such personal things and I still remember them, but I won't tell anyone.
I love that even when I have the worst day imaginable, the days when I've come home and Googled "companies who hire teachers", that I still can't imagine not having this career. I get to forge bonds every day, I get to have one tiny fraction of influence in the lives of hundreds of teenagers who will grow into generations of adults, and that's more powerful than any CEO or politician.
I love that in my classroom I am at my best, and it's something I save for the kids, something that not even my husband or best friend have ever witnessed. I am also at my worst, but I only have 180 days each year to make up for that, so I'm quick to reconcile after a bad day.
I love that I have summers off, not just for the obvious, but because I need those summers to recharge and learn new things and come back a better person than I would be if I was too stressed and overworked from 40 hour work weeks that also contain 30+ hours each week outside of "work". I love that some people think teachers have it easy because of that, and then come in and shake with fear when they have to speak for even 15 minutes in front of a group of 8th graders on Career Day. Do you remember how much you hated middle school because of how mean and emotional and irrational you and everyone else were? Good. That's every day of my working life.
I love that my job will never be stagnant or boring or easy.
I love being an English teacher.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.