I leave my job many days feeling I’ve had no impact on society. It’s rare that I receive feedback, and when I do, it’s almost never positive. I spend countless hours working tirelessly to do the best job possible. I never feel I’ve done enough. There are days that I put myself last; these are most days. I wake early, with the day’s lesson in my mind. I hurry out the door, sometimes forgetting to thank and appreciate those closest and dearest to me. I spend the next several hours performing my routine in the hopes that students will understand. As I’m presenting my art, I’m also managing personalities, abilities, and time. When I’m done, I’m tired. I’m teacher tired. Often, I stay behind to clean desk, make copies, and plan the next lesson or lab. Hours that go unseen by most are felt strongly by my family. They don’t have all of me, and they should. Even when I’m home, I can’t turn off the call of the next performance. What can I do to be better? If I present it this way, maybe they’ll understand more. Their grades were not good, what did I do incorrectly? I evaluate myself in real-time. I rate myself with each lesson taught, by each confused face, by each poor grade that my pen records. My emotions wax and wane like the view of the moon. I’m surfing ocean waves and then being crushed beneath them. There are days when I’m full of energy and enthusiasm; others where I struggle to smile and continue. These are the days I labor with my decision to choose this profession. I craved a career, not a job. My choice required more education than thousands of others; yet, the pay is meager. I struggle to justify the expense. The thoughts of ROI (return on investment) fill my dreams.
Why am I so affected by this passion inside me? It burns within me, keeping me warm at times, but hurting too. Once a year, my tribe is “appreciated.” The remainder, we are criticized, condemned, and cast aside. We are vilified by politicians and the media. What did we do to deserve this? You treat us as if we don’t have the most critical task on the planet. We’ve taught doctors, lawyers, presidents, activists and more. We gave up money, power, and fame to contribute to the advancement of society through the development of critical thinkers and problem solvers. What did you give up? An educator is a philanthropist. We give all of ourselves with full knowledge that there is no personal return. The ROI we seek is for society, not our bank accounts. Although having more in our accounts would be well received. Through tears, hurt feelings, and sickness, we endure the criticism, the slander, and lack of appreciation. Each of us has seen a more glorious dawn that awaits. It stares at us each day. While our “office” may not have a view of the city, a lake, or some other distant landscape, it has a sight you will never see or appreciate. Our office has a view of the future. And to me, that future looks bright. I am an educator. There is nothing else I want to be, so move out of my way and let me educate.
Lance A Davis