It’s no secret to regular Radical readers that I often get worn down by the grind of teaching. Wrap the public criticism piled on teachers at every turn up with the crappy policies that have stripped the joy out of the public school classroom and you have a profession that leaves me wondering more and more every year.
But there IS joy in teaching — and this week, it came in the form of a pile of birthday cards from my students:
Such a small thing, right? But to me, it meant everything.
The kids thanked me and teased me and joked about my hairline and the fact that I’m apparently older than dirt. Some snuck the cards into my room and left them for me to discover on my desk. Others came in groups of two or three to share creations that they had worked on together.
They worked on their cards during homeroom, during our school wide enrichment block and during their classes. My guess is that they missed a ton of content, distracted by the simple act of celebrating one of their teachers.
I missed a ton of content, too: At the end of the day, I ignored the four thousand email messages sitting in my inbox and smiled my way through a pile of special memories from a group of kids that I care about.
While those memories won’t pay the bills or take away the sting of criticism that I feel every time I read the paper or listen to the radio, they do serve as a tangible reminder that this profession really IS rewarding.
Related Radical Reads: