In this bipolar world we live in today, teachers have become the new whipping boys for everything that's wrong with society. The critics say teachers make too much money and get too many benefits for only working nine months out of the year so they're attacking the professional organizations that represent teachers by alleging they're the source of our financial woes.
I've been a college professor for 30 years and, during that time, I've had thousands of students sit in my classes. There's nothing easy about teaching. You have to be an entertainer, a comedian, a friend, a disciplinarian, a tactician, a confidant, and an expert in your field all at once. Teachers have bad days just like everyone else does but we can't afford to let our bad days show to our classes. They expect us to be on top of our game every single class meeting and, if we're not, we lose them and when we do, it's hard if not impossible to get them back.
I love what I do. I believe it's what I was called to do. Behind every great person is a teacher who motivated that person to be something they weren't sure they could be.
Not all teachers can do this. Some in fact aren't very good at what they do, just like we have some doctors and attorneys and plumbers and carpenters who aren't very good either. But despite the brashness and cockiness of young people and the assumption that they know more than anyone else does, they quickly figure out who the good ones and bad ones are.
Teachers train harder and longer for their jobs than any other profession with the exception of medical doctors. I went to college for nine years past my high school graduation so I could become a college professor. The amount of debt incurred over that period was astronomical and it took me forever to pay it off. But it was worth it because I'm doing the one thing I love; something I couldn't have done without that tremendous investment of time, labor and effort.
Some people ask me when I'm going to retire and my answer is always the same. I don't know when I'm going to retire. Maybe never. Maybe when I die. Because even though I enjoy the summer off, by the time August rolls back around, I'm as anxious to get back into the classroom as the new crop of freshmen that are coming to college for the first time. I love playing golf with my friends and doing what I want to do during the summer but after three months of doing that, I'm ready for structure in my life again. And my classes and students give me that structure.
I'm divorced so I don't have a regular companion of the opposite sex to go places and do things with. I wish I did but I don't. Single, divorced, and widowed people get left out of a lot of social things that involve couples because we have no one to bring and that's understandable.
Teaching is my life. It's what I was put here to do. I'm not a magician so I don't turn all of my students on to education, although I never stop trying. But I turn on just enough of them to bring me back for another year because I know in some cases, I'm saving their lives in the process.
I had three memorable professors during college and one in high school that did for me what I try to do for my students. Without them, I wouldn't have become a professor. I might not have even graduated from college. They motivated me to seek the best for myself and to challenge myself at every turn and for the past thirty years, I've tried to pay that forward.
The current financial situation of this country isn't the fault of the teachers. Think what it would be if there weren't any.