(248) The Best Reward

Many teachers say they steer young people away from becoming a teacher.

I am not one of those.

I love when my former students decide on the teaching profession. It has been my experience that many of my best students have moved in that direction. They are communicators and leaders and they were always the ones who worked a bit harder in my class.

It is without reservation I tell them that teaching is the best job in the world.

It often can be hard to block out the nonsense that swirls around public education. It has taken me years to perfect that skill. This is the first year that I am moving forward only in the ways I know will benefit my students. I have enough years behind me to have a beautiful collection of the best ways to teach anything related to language arts. And I’m going to use them!

But back to the upcoming teachers. This year I watched as young people I know started setting up their own classroom and posting pictures online. I know their abilities. I know their caring natures about the work. And I know their smiles.

The smiles that will greet their students.  Those lucky, lucky students.

So, here is to Celeste and Andrea and Bailee and Christine. Here is to Niecy and Luis and Karina who are still moving forward in their dreams to become teachers.

It’s okay. Do it.

Yesterday I had the most amazing experience.  A student I taught during the 2006-7 school year showed up in my classroom to observe. She is currently in school to become a teacher.

Holly is one of the students that has always stayed in my mind, and it is because of one simple act. I can still clearly see her walking up to me one day in class and saying, “Ms. Sadler, here is a book for the classroom library. I liked it, and I think you will also.”  I did love the book, although right now I cannot recall the title. I believe it is still in my classroom library.

When she walked into my 6th period class yesterday, it was such a joy to see what a beautiful young woman she has become. Her first words: “The Outsiders is still my favorite book. I remember reading it in your class.”  This is joy multiplied — she remembered that we read MY favorite book, and now it is hers.

Can’t get any more awesome than that.

So, it is okay if my students want to become teachers. No matter what profession they go into, there will be disappointments, disillusions, and struggles with conscious.  It is the nature of work.

Politicians pontificate constantly about “rewarding good teachers.”  I scoff at their ignorance.

The purpose and the rewards for teaching come from within. No amount of money or accolades or ratings as “highly effective” compare.

Sometimes that purpose appears in a form from the past you didn’t expect. And that, I have discovered, is the true reward of teaching.

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Holly visits my classroom
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Holly with Haley, Field Day 2007
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