I hear that all the time about my job.

And honestly, sometimes I feel like this video (warning on the language) is a good representation of conversations taken seriously about American education.

Some days, it feels like everything is the teacher’s fault. I feel responsible for the student who walks in a sleeps every day. What is that about? How is his failing grade my fault? Seriously. I feel responsible for the poor grades of an 18-year-old student chooses to cuss me out for asking her to open a book. Is it my fault when she doesn’t master the content? Sometimes, I feel like it is. I feel like other people think it is. Students. Parents. Administrators. Policy-makers. I know I have a tendency to over-dramatize, but I don’t thinking I’m making all of this stuff up.

Today is Friday. (“And you’re at home blogging?” I’m awesome, I know.) I’ve just survived the first 8 days of my 4th year of teaching. Back off.

I do think that I love this job a bit more every day. Everyone thinks high school kids are lazy, ungrateful bums, but I think that’s a huge generalization. To prove it, I’d like to give a list of the top 3 wonderfully positive interactions I’ve had just in the past few days.

  1. My dancers are amazing. Most of these girls were not athletes, and many of them have pushed through trials and tears for their school’s first ever dance team. This year, I can turn on the music at practice, and watch their sidelines for football season without wanting to cry myself. (Sounds like an exaggeration, but last year, they were still learning the moves the day of the first game.) They even have many technique moves they didn’t have before. What could be more rewarding than seeing their growth and maturity so clearly!
  2. My students are giving. One day this week, a girl who I taught last year came by to see me in the morning with a jar of fresh, homemade salsa. She even brought me a bag of chips to go along with it. How thoughtful! That same afternoon, another student brought me a cupcake he made in foods class. One girl, who I taught two years ago, brought me a book of her poetry that she wrote over the summer!
  3. My students work hard. When I told my kids that I was painting my room after school last Friday, I didn’t think any of them would really come. Instead, half of my dance team came, and a slew of other students who I had taught over the years showed up. A few of them just heard out in the hallway that I needed help and in they came. Of course, I bribed them with free pizza, but the truth is, I think most of them just wanted to be there to help — to have something visible and positive in their school to call their own. (Pics of the room to come, promise.) I don’t know how I could have done it without them!

In light of all the good that I’ve seen this week, knowing that my job wears me out so much that I’m at home blogging at a Friday night really doesn’t seem so bad. I’ve spent the past few years wondering if this really was the job for me. And who’s to say I won’t go back to school someday, or switch careers, or stay at home? But for now? I think I can do this!