Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why do I do it?

Another school year is almost here. Every year in June I swear, "This is my last year!" I have been saying that for at least twenty years. Those words exit the mouth of a very exhausted teacher. It is not the voice of reason speaking. After summer vacation I am energized, rejuvenated.

Retire? No way. The adoration of my preschool students and witnessing their individual growth and development are perks that make my job worthwhile. When they move on to kindergarten, my former students, who were like puppy dogs following me around, morph into aloof 'cool cats'. They stand quietly in the big-school hall and nod in my direction. If I mosey over for a hug, they nuzzle me and purr a greeting, but they no longer circle me, and yap happily all at one time. They live by big kid rules.

Each fall when I begin a new school year, I know in my heart that I have the dream job, the job that I have desired since I was ten years old. To awaken a love of learning in a young child is to foster a life-long thirst for knowledge.

I teach more than the pre academic concepts. I envision each little child as the adult he or she will become; therefore the greatest subject I teach is the Golden Rule. If students master but one thing, I say let it be this one rule, for learning to treat others as you would like to be treated is equivalent to paving the yellow brick road to future success.

I am not the wizard, nor am I a wicked witch. I do instill courage in the cowardly, fill little brains with knowledge, foster self-esteem, and I have been known to cackle. I prepare little tykes, who sometimes act like flying monkeys for the rigors of big school. I do this because I see positive results.

When the elementary schools have days off and preschool is in session, several of my former students, who range in age from five to fifteen, come back to visit me in the classroom. It’s rewarding to know that I have had an impact, and it is proof positive that I do have my dream job. I’ve been providing developmentally appropriate, comprehensive education experiences for more than three decades; no way am I planning for retirement. It's incidences like the following that keep me coming back.

Tommy, 3, had speech issues and would not participate at show and tell; for months I could not draw him out. Then one day he came in chattering non stop, so I immediately called everyone to show and tell.

Tommy: "My mama's water pipe broke."

Me: "Oh no. Where?"

Tommy: "Her water pipe broked in the kitchen."

Me: "Tell us more. What happened?"

Tommy: "Baby Gus slid right out Mama's water pipe onto the kitchen floor and I said,

'Mommy-Mommy-Mommy', and she said, 'Tommy-Tommy-Tommy, dial 911.' So me did."

True story! Tommy talked non-stop after witnessing his brother's home birth.


BECKY said...

Tommy may end up being a writer and having that story a Chicken Soup book! :)
And when you need reminding about how much you love teaching and don't want to eat bon-bons and write all'll have to come back to this post! I'm glad you love your job!

Claudia Moser said...

Lovely post, and I am sure you make a great impact in the lives of those who meet you, as you did in mine!

Kim Lehnhoff said...

I'm sure Tommy was proud that he could help, and couldn't wait to share - who else can tell of witnessing new life at show n tell?

And it takes just one teacher to instill the love of learning for a lifetime - how lucky that these children have you!

Unknown said...

I have known teachers exactly like you that cannot seem to bring themselves to leave what they love and I think that is awesome. Loved the story and I am sure you have heard some doozies.

Sweet Lily said...

Nice post! Insightful and inspirational!

Bookie said...

Great story. Hard to believe it is already time to talk turkey about returning to school. I hope you have a great year ahead!

Unknown said...

We need dedicated teachers right now...stick with it as long as you can. Great story about Tommy.

Lynn said...

Wow, the fact that you still love what you do after so many years, how refreshing and how nice for all the little kiddos that come into contact with you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Linda,
Great post. I love the story about Tommy and Momma's "water pipe". You made me smile. This is a really nice blog. Thanks for visiting mine.

Debora said...

We lead parallel existences. I too, stumble into summer bedraggled and exhausted; wondering why oh why I am doing what I do. But on that bright September morning, the first day of school...when I see the smiles and excitement, I remember why. It's not a's a calling.

Patti said...

How great that you have written these inspiring thoughts down. That way, when you have a difficult day and feel like throwing in the towel, you can read this and get re-inspired.

You sound like a great teacher. Your students will undoubtedly be blessed by having you in their lives.

Blessings to you,

Sioux Roslawski said...

Out of the mouths of babes.

I was checking out at Target the other day, and from my purchases, it was obvious I was a teacher. The cashier said they have a friend who is a retired teacher, and we started talking, and she was thrilled with how happy I am being a teacher.

It truly IS the best job around.

BB said...

What a great post. The rewards must be endless for you over all these years. I truly have admired teachers and call them "walking saints". The story about Tommy is priceless. Thanks for sharing that one.

Susan Fobes said...

I love this story! What a great milestone for him.

I am nearing my 20th year, and like you, every June I wonder what the heck I am doing. But I too get visits from students who have graduated high school and come back to say "hi," and I love it, and always start to get antsy at the end of the summer... I say stay at it until you truly have had enough, and for friends I know who have retired, all said that you will know when it's time.

Linda O'Connell said...

Thanks to all my visitors for your coments. I so appreciate your stopping by.

Southhamsdarling said...

Lovely story about little Tommy and the birth of the new baby! It must be such a rewarding job that you have, Linda, especially at that age group. You are everything to them during their time with you, aren't you?! Must be a wonderful feeling. I remember when my youngest daughter first started school. I said something to her as a mum, and she promptly told me that Miss..... said, and obviously Miss knew more than mum did!! I did smile!

Alice said...

Cute story. Lucky you-such a rewarding job. I'm sure it's exhausting but you have to come home with a smile on your face (and plenty of writing material).