Politics Aside: I Am a Teacher

I know that by and large this is a website about politics and current event issues.

And I know that when I talk about education here it’s about policies and politics and all that jazz.

With the start of school being here, I suppose it’s expected that I have something to say about the whole thing.

I did sit in a union meeting that was 2 hours long and listen to healthcare stuff and pension things and the bills that are currently waiting on action in the House (in Michigan) and the usual lecture about contributing to the PAC.

I have to say, with all this plus the election campaigning in full swing, I am suddenly finding myself burned out on the politics of teaching.

I spent every day this past week doing something to get ready for the school year that is about to begin in my district.

I built a new classroom from nothing. I sat in staff meetings and learned about the new Common Core and how my training on it from this summer would need to be reflected in my instruction.  I learned new school policy. I had a department meeting focused on how we could make our curriculum much more rigorous, but capture MORE students. I spent hours in prayer and meditation for the teachers and administration I will be working with, the students who will be walking through my door, and my own heart and mind that it be ready for all of this new year’s challenges.  I even weathered a huge last-minute change in my schedule.

And I’ll tell you what.

Next week, when I am standing by my class door greeting my new students, I will not be thinking about my pension.

When I travel to the Junior High to teach 9th graders, I will not be wondering which healthcare plan we can afford.

When I stay after school until the last possible minute before I have to leave to pick my sons up from daycare, I won’t be obsessing over which bills will pass the House and which ones won’t.

When I am at work on Thursday from 6:30am until after 8pm because we have openhouse and I live too far away to make driving home worth it, I will not be thinking about what I do and do not get paid for.

When I use my own time and resources to put up a nice bulletin board for the Students of the Month, I won’t be considering that this extra duty is not paid.

When I have a sweet idea for a lesson that will take a lot of planning and possibly some expense, I will put in the time and money and not think about my summers “off”.

When I conference with students and parents, I won’t be fretting about school vouchers.

When I call my mom and ask her to pick up my boys from daycare because I have a student who can stay after only on this particular day and who really needs my help, I won’t have anyone named Paul, Mitt, Barack, or Joe on my mind let alone what their policy about educating kids is.

I really can’t speak for all teachers, but I know that when I declared I wanted to teach (at the ripe age of 7), it wasn’t for anything that will be debated in a campaign speech. It was because I experienced what it was like to teach someone to do something and have them get it. I knew what it was like to show someone how to do something they didn’t know how to do before.

It was because it gave me joy to help someone else.

Over time I became passionate about helping the helpers…which is why I write here.

But I started teaching purely out of joy…and it’s why I stay in the profession.