swim, chem, baseball, I talk with my hands
Why am I a teacher? Next year marks my 25th year since the start of my teaching career, which makes it sound more impressive than all that. In fact, the reason I teach is two-fold: I like doing this as a career and somebody is willing to pay me to do this (and I can afford to do so – thanks, Jo!). I could make a case for wanting to serve students (which I love doing) or wishing to be a part of a community that is bigger than just me (which I certainly am doing). But I just love being a teacher and when I am not in the classroom I feel a bit lost. I suppose that I will stop teaching when this is no longer true but it is true now.
I like my students (no, REALLY this is true) and I experience the many moments that come with spending time with them and my colleagues. Yet rarely do I get to see the true, unfiltered joy that I saw yesterday. AP Chemistry is a brutally challenging course, one that demands time and effort and grit, and some students don’t want or cannot handle this task. Heck, I couldn’t handle that in high school so I am not disappointed in any way when a student opts out of the course or does less than stellar. And when the students in the course win, and I do mean WIN, then it’s all I can do to just step back and watch.
All year long I have been coaching and supporting students to get to the end: the AP Exam. The final exam is the dry run and I conduct it as a complete mimic of the real thing, and if they can earn a true “4” then they earn an “A” for the course (“The Deal”). Secretly I am sweating this because I know they have the ability and they have to work hard but any number of derailments are possible, not the least of which is “losing faith.” I constantly tell them: “you can do it!” “Keep on moving ahead!” But what if I am wrong? Well, I wasn’t and they jumped and screamed as if they had won the lottery. They were running in the hallway, calling people on their phones and telling me how much they love me. Sure, I was there along the way but this is all about them and their accomplishments. It is absolutely, 100%, pure wagonfulls of awesome and incredible to watch.
So, why am I a teacher? Because, DAMN, I get to have days like yesterday.