Erica Jacobs loves her job. But like most teachers, she's also ambivalent about almost every part of it.
I have a similar dialogue with myself nearly every day. This past week it ran: “I hate this job. Will I ever be able to wake up after 5 a.m.? Yeah---in retirement. But Lucy just won first place in a writing contest with an essay that helped make her a stronger person. If I didn’t force students to write, their lives might be different. I love this job.”
We’re paid too little money. Yet we get snow days off, and a week around Christmas and Easter, and two months in the summer. We work too hard, but can come home in the afternoon. We bring our jobs home with us in the form of papers to correct and recommendations to write; yet sometimes that job reveals, hidden at the bottom of the stack, transcendent student work that keeps us awake, it’s so revelatory.
We whine in teacher workrooms---trading stories of student excuses (“the dog ate my homework” has been replaced by ”printer failure.”) Yet we also can’t wait to share with others a lesson that worked well, or news of our students’ admissions to the colleges of their choice.