Lose the Suit, Keep the Sentiment

            This
time of year I don’t go too many places where someone, knowing I’m a teacher, doesn’t ask, “How many more days?” 
And with more rapidity than most people can spew out their name, I can
answer–twenty-one, in case you’re interested.  Between our countdowns and our constant griping about humid
classrooms and antsy (read that, obnoxious) students, people might start to
believe the bad press that implies the majority of teachers really do go into
education for the (UNpaid) summer vacations.  I’ll let you in on a well-guarded secret: we didn’t; we
actually like our jobs.

            So
why all the bitching?  Because when
it comes down to it, it’s much easier to be sarcastic, than sincere.  Our sardonic remarks and witty quips
about pain in the butt parents or kids can entertain a crowd for hours.  How much fun would we be at the bar on
Friday night if we shared that our job was really all about having an impact
and making a difference?  I can see
the eye rolls even through cyber-space. 
So instead we complain about having to be educators, parents,
counselors, cheerleaders, and drill sergeants, all at once.  What we don’t admit to is that the
opportunity to fulfill these other roles is why most of us went into
education–or at least why we stay in it.

            I
feel pleased when I conference with students third term and realize they have
learned what a thesis statement is and where it goes (even it they can’t yet
write one to save their young lives). 
But when a student comes to me Monday morning shaking me out of my
pre-coffee coma because she can’t wait to share with me what she did that
weekend, or when another I don’t even have in class asks for help editing her
seventy page “masterpiece” (that doesn’t have a paragraph indent anywhere
in sight), or when yet another catches me after class to ask for advice about
being bullied, I feel much more than pleased.  The fact that another person trusts, respects, and relies on
me makes me feel a little like a super hero–albeit without the super powers.  Luckily, though, like most people, kids
just want someone to listen to them, and I can handle that even without the
ability to leap buildings in a single bound. 

            I’m
not sharing this as a means of patting myself on my back or putting teachers up
on some grand altruistic pedestal. 
Far from it.  I’m coming
clean about a dirty little secret everyone knows, but no one likes to
admit: people like helping people, not just to make others feel good, but also
to make themselves feel good. 
Teachers happen to have the benefit of being able to do this on a daily
basis, but we all have a little super hero complex, we just fulfill it in
different ways.  Some people choose
careers that impact people, others raise children, others volunteer.  There should be no shame in admitting
we do these things, at least partially, for selfish reasons.  We’re still giving of ourselves for the
benefit of others, we just happen to benefit as well.  It’s a win, win situation.

            Frankly,
I’m quite glad moms choose to tell the amusing horror stories of parenting and
my colleagues and I exchange our most outrageous emails–raw sentiment makes me
squirm a little.  And I’m beyond
elated that my neighbor who volunteers at the local food pantry has not decided
to walk around the condo complex wearing a lycra unitard–lycra unitards make me
vomit a little.  But I’m all for
embracing our inner super hero desire to help those in need, whatever our motives.  I wouldn’t even object to a cool cape.

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1 Comment

Filed under The Rest of Life

One response to “Lose the Suit, Keep the Sentiment

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