181. The Joy of Teaching

Teaching gets in your blood. Once a teacher, always a teacher. Of course, everybody is a teacher, to some degree. When you say something, sign something, write something, or even just exist, you sometimes get somebody to know something they didn’t already know, or something they didn’t know they knew. Teaching is a natural part of living. But for some people (myself included), teaching is one of the main reasons for being here.
Some people think we teach because we’re so noble. We are paid less than some people who don’t work as hard (but also more than some people who work harder). I’ll accept that compliment, but I don’t think I do it to be noble. It’s fun to do, and it makes me feel good. I don’t think there’s anything particularly noble about wanting to have fun and feel good. I’m lucky that I don’t get my kicks in ways that are less socially acceptable. Then I wouldn’t get as many nobility points.
I’m having fun teaching a neighbor how to speak English without an accent. I told you about that a few weeks ago. I like teaching, I like language, and I like my neighbor. Teaching English diction to someone who is used to Slavic diction is a fascinating process. It gets me to rethink some of what children go through, and what we all went through, as we learned our native languages.
And of course, there’s my volunteering at the Fort River School, and my volunteer tutoring after school. I hope I never have to ask for money again. When I get paid (though it does help pay bills), I find myself focussing less on the real reasons I teach.
I do remember that there are things teachers have to do that they wish they didn’t have to do. That’s true of all lines of work. I think people all over the place occasionally dream about the great and glorious things they could do if they didn’t have to do what they already do to earn a living. There were plenty of times I had those dreams.
But my dreams seem to have mostly come true, and it’s a little surprising how similar they are to what I was already doing. I know the message I’m about to give you is a little like telling the parent of a fussing baby to treasure the time he/she has with this little bundle of joy. It’s easier to say when you’re not the one dealing with the little bundle of joy. But really, teachers, keep in mind, as you carry your piles of papers home to correct, or spend sleepless nights trying to figure out how to solve a problem you’re having with a child, that you’re doing a job some people dearly wish they could do – that it’s exciting, important work. Don’t forget about the joy.

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