I have a Secret about Teaching

If you would have told me ten years ago that I would be starting a business on my own, I would have probably laughed myself to tears.

If you would have told me that I would have an earth shattering disruption in my life that would have me out on my own, after many years being part of a family, I might have looked quizzically, but would not have believed it.

IF you would have told me that I would have to step out of my comfort zone and merge with people I had never met in my life on a very personal basis, I would have scoffed.

Yet these things happened in the course of the last ten years.

Believe it or not, I am stronger for them.

The most important revelation I had, during this time, was a deepening of my spiritual side. I found comfort and solace in reading and meditating. I took the time to not think.

The next thing I find interesting is, when a person must bring about change to survive, they are able to stand on their own two feet, no matter how wobbly and unsteady, to make it through each day.

But what is most gratifying is that, as I reflect on my troubled times, I wasn’t the only one with problems.

Everyone had their stuff.

Teachers have a unique infrastructure. Sure, there are those people you tolerate because you have to even though they are mean or don’t share your educational philosophy, but the real benefit of teaching is the sense of belonging you have with people who are living their days just like you. Teachers are the same underneath it all, whether one happens to win awards or one is happy to work “in the trenches” without fanfare.

There is a genuine sense of community in the ranks of teachers. Sure, there will always be competition or envy, but who is really made from the same box? But, I would even go as far to say that teachers provide a family that neither time, bureaucracy, or misbehavior of students or administrators can transcend.

For me, it was as if this group stood around me with hands out, holding me up. They provided company, gave phone calls, opened their homes, and even raked my yard, when I was too broken to move. I owe them for bringing me back to the living. They are a family who gets you. They believe in you and love you unconditionally. I am not lying. Don't tell, it's our secret.

As I look at other professions, I see maybe one or two people in an office setting that might have listened or a group of professionals that hold personal lives at arm’s length. One of my non-teaching best friends told me to move on, she was no longer my friend. It was a glancing blow and almost took my breath away. But it didn’t. I dug deep into my day to day connections and had, very possibly, the best years. My students and I supported a Lost Boy from Darfur and went to Chicago to walk in the Sudan Peace Walk, we joined in the Clean Water Walk at WMU and raised the most money than any other group. We had compassion roundtable talks that included how to compliment the person next to us in a meaningful way. I was able to connect with the kids on a much deeper and thoughtful level. It took me from living a shallow existence to a rich wonderful one.

When you become a teacher, you become part of something so much more. A community. A tribe. A group of like mindedness that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else. You are treated like your ideas count. You have a voice among your peers.

Please do not discount this profession as so much work. It is. But there are so many benefits to be make through the human connections with other teachers, parents, and students that will lift you up and carry you through your ins and outs.

I watched social media this weekend and observed teachers out together, having fun, being parents, attending sporting events, sharing the spirit of themselves and I said to myself :

“Man! This was the best choice I ever could have made. How lucky was I to have been part of something so much bigger?”

As I watch the droll business of low wages and lack of support, I know there is something that can’t be taken away. We have a secret, don’t we teachers?

Think on that Teachers.

Happy Monday.

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