I've been having a tough year so far at school, and some days I've been really wondering why I do the work I do. I was reminded today, on two different occasions, why I love my job, at least most of the time.
I have an open-door after school work/help session policy with my students. I invite kids to spend time with me after school to work on homework, get help, etc whenever they (or their parents) need to stay. I've made arrangements with one parent that her student will stay with me on Mondays. Student is not happy about it. While Student is very bright, and quite capable, school is not at the top of Student's list of priorities, and therefore instead of great grades, Student receives the dreaded average grade and the "not working to capacity" comment. Student is not concerned, but Parent is, and I too know Student could do better. So Student stays reluctantly. Yesterday I received one of those terrific notes from parents -the ones that don't come as often as we like. The parent thanked me for making this time available, and for continuing to push Student to excel. It's a rare treat lately for parents to commend us -- we've really been berated a lot lately for a number of things (that frankly are beyond our individual control). So that was the reminder #1 of why we do what we do.
The second reminder brought me to tears. A student from last year arrived in my room after school yesterday as I was feverishly trying to clean up, and I was also trying to get sub plans done since I will be at workshop on Monday. He was a student I really enjoyed having, and he usually stops by my room to say hi a couple of times a week. On this occasion he came in and started pouring his heart out to me. He was nervous about the holiday since it was the first big one since his parents' divorce. He shared with me that he'd been in therapy since the middle of last year (something I knew, but he didn't know I knew) and that although he hated going, he knew it was helping him a lot. He went on to tell me about all the things he liked about my classes, and told me that even though reading/language arts was not a subject he liked, I had made it interesting and fun, and "you picked good books for me to read." It was one of those conversations that make you know that you had really connected with a student. As I said, the tears were right there, and again, it was one of those rare moments where you know you've made a difference.
These moments go a very long way to help alleviate all the down sides of our jobs as teachers. And fortunately, these reminders come when I most need them. I am grateful for them!