For the past few months it feels as though all we have discussed is the daily challenges and hardships we face as teachers. So why do we do it? Why do we all come back for more every September? Optimism? Are we suckers for punishment? Maybe, just maybe despite all of these challenges, we actually get more out of this profession than it takes from us.
Most teachers I have worked with can easily recite several good reasons why they teach, but I wanted to dig a little deeper, and what I unearthed was a collection of moments. The past 21 years of teaching have given me a treasure of moments that keep me going even when every fibre of my being tells me I have had enough.
That moment when she told you she received her acceptance letter to the university program she applied to.
That moment he put his head inside his backpack on his desk and cried because he failed a test he admitted he didn’t study for.
That moment she told you she was pregnant and you both cried. Then you dried your tears and together you figured out how she could still graduate (and then you cried again after she left).
That moment she emailed you in October of her first year of university to thank you for preparing her so well for post-secondary studies, and told you it was as hard as you said it was going to be.
That moment you sat outside the library while they wrote their very first International Baccalaureate exam and couldn’t leave until they were all done and you knew they were okay.
That moment he walked across the stage to receive his grade 12 diploma and you remembered when he was in grade 10 you were so worried this day would never happen.
That moment you found the thank you card and gift in your mailbox from that mother who wanted you to know what a difference you had made in her daughter’s life.
That moment you really messed up and had to put on your big girl panties and tell the principal what you did.
That moment when they ask you to get in the picture with them at the prom.
That moment when she invites you to her bridal shower years after she has graduated and you get to see her as a confident, young woman beginning an amazing new journey with her soon-to-be husband.
That moment he tells you he can’t believe you called his mom to tell her he had no school supplies with him at school, but his grin tells you that he knows you care about him and his success.
That moment when you lose the provincial qualifying game and sit in the locker room and cry with your grade 12 players whose last season has just ended.
That moment when your class presented you with a lovely gift basket full of items meant to help you relax because they recognized how hard you have been working to prep the new curriculum and they feel you deserve a break.
That moment when he stays behind after class and apologizes to you for the behaviour of his classmates because he feels you have been treated unfairly.
That moment when they trust you enough to share something very personal they are struggling with and you gladly share the burden of the secret.
That moment you pull your overhead screen down and realize the boys have covered it with the logo of their favourite NFL team who happened to beat your favourite NFL team in the game on Sunday.
That moment she tells you her mom cried when she read the reference letter you wrote for her.
And most importantly, those moments when you see that look on their faces. The look that says “I get it” and you know that they have learned something new. Those are my favourite moments and the reasons I am grateful that I am a teacher.