Everyone loves to bemoan those thankless jobs that only seem to only pile up more work load without a commensurate amount of thanks and extra pay to go along with it. You know–those sadistic job descriptions where closure always seems to be yanked beyond our grasp, like a large bill denomination on a hook being dangled by a mean spirited fisherman.
But it seems to me that for teachers at least, this very lack of closure is one of the most stimulating and attractive features of the job description and should only serve to motivate and keep ones batteries constantly recharged. In fact when you really bond with your students, you almost experience a fountain of youth feeling of indestructability in which you are more than willing to over exert yourself and over pay for something simply for the sake of the excitement of the next idea.
Along the way this means for teachers like me—trying to find peace between an almost bi-polar condition of feeling like the greatest, most unique teacher in the world one day to then plummeting the next day to feeling completely unsuitable and a pretender to even wear the title.
The thrill lies in the “skies the limit” possibilities of gathering materials and ideas. Mistakes and miscalculations are all essential elements along the way towards chiseling out a more enduring and meaningful final outcome.
Any symbiotic living arrangement of students and staff gets messy at times. This is why I favor “work in progress” classrooms in which homemade wall displays grow and expand (and yes even look incomplete at times) with the momentum of the class. And they are by definition interactive. Making a mistake on a teacher generated worksheet is far more fixable than is the broken state of inertia built up over time by an educator that always has the same sequences and the same commercial tests and the same commercial poster displays.
And you have to feel comfortable where you work in order to fully feel the glow of always striving to get better. Because it has nothing to do with perfection and everything to do with relationships and reinforcement. It means being encouraged to experiment and be resourceful. The outside world seeps into the walls of this classroom and the scenery changes constantly.
Places that lack this are constantly distracting themselves by feeling important as they once again raise the bar on computer competencies and IBM kind of cookie cutter skill sets.
The key is this: are you in a proactive environment that looks at “doing better” as being indicative of the never ending evolutionary by-product of trying and experimenting that goes with the territory of teaching? Or are you in an insecure, punitive system that twists self-improvement into building a rap sheet kind of way to find fault? I have found it to be an ironic condition that the harshest evaluation school systems are generally run by administrators that sorely lacked the social skills and community spirit so vital in fostering good morale and creativity in the classroom.
When you are truly valued at your school and classroom, you find you can overcome any material deficiency or circumstance, due to the empowerment you feel for starting all over again the next day with yet another chance to express yourself with something new up your sleeve!