What Teachers Make

Apologies for my failure to post on Friday. I will do better this week!

In the meantime, here’s a great article (below) that gave me a little extra boost of confidence in my vocation. The problem with teaching is that one never really feels like one has done enough. It’s the kind of job where you have to accept constant feelings of disappointment and regret, and yet nevertheless press forward with hopefulness and determination.

Valerie Strauss taught for only two years before leaving teaching and becoming a lawyer. Her perspective is really interesting, and encouraging for the rest of us who do choose to press on with this somewhat under appreciated career.

“You Think You Know What Teachers Do. Right? Wrong.” by Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post

A taste:

You did not learn that your 15-year-old students were pregnant from their answers to vocabulary quizzes. You did not learn how to teach functionally illiterate high school students to appreciate Shakespeare. You did not design lessons to teach students close reading skills by starting with the lyrics to pop songs. You did not miserably fail your honors level students at least in part because you had no books to give them. You did not struggle to teach your students how to develop a thesis for their essays, and bask in the joy of having taught a successful lesson, of having gotten through to them, even for five minutes. (Strauss)

And, on a related note, here is the (now pretty famous) slam poem video by Taylor Mali about “What Teachers Make.”

Warning: some explicit language and gestures

And (on a much more appropriate note), this has been my motto of teaching for the last three years. It gets me through even when I know I’m not doing a very good job:

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