Ode to Teaching

Teaching is everything all at once. It is giving back to the world and a way of navigating it. It is a microcosm, but it is the platform on which reality is built. Teaching is a way of changing minds for the better. It is giving information but getting it back as well. It is guiding, counseling, presenting information, performing, reading, evaluating, encouraging, correcting, improving, persevering, pushing, revising, planning, and flying by the seat of your pants, and it is getting a classroom of individuals to do all the everything as well.

There is a common perception that no two days are ever the same in teaching. That is true to an extent. It is varied enough to keep it endlessly entertaining, and each student can have a different take on a subject. However, there is enough consistency that you can survive the chaos and bring order to so much more than just your own life. There is a great deal of hope that goes into teaching. You have the hopes for yourself and your lesson plan, but more importantly and more rewardingly, you have the hope that you will reach even one of your student’s minds. You seek continually to find that spark of inspiration, that feeling of contentment at a job well done, the illumination as a mind latches onto a new concept. There are jokes to be had and clever comments. There is the simple pleasure of practice. There is a sense of anticipation as students walk in the door full of new experiences since the last time you have seen them. There is the anxiety that your students have remembered what you hoped to come back and move forward again. There is the worn out feeling of wanting nothing more than a nap but knowing you put in so much effort to improving the world and those who live in it. There are late nights and early mornings that can force you unknowingly to see a beautiful sunrise you never would have.

Teaching lets you share your passions with others. You can go into a classroom and show all of the reasons that you think your subject is the best ever, that it will change your life, that it will give you the most necessary of tools for the world, that it will give you a great sense of satisfaction and joy to know that subject. There is always the chance to not just find but create people with common interests to yours. Students force you to become a better person in both action and thought. They teach you as much or more about a subject than a class attended will. The number of times you step back and think I never thought about that. is astounding, and you are challenged to either think it through on the spot or admit that you do not know and commit to finding out for the edification of all.

Watching a student take to a subject is gratifying. Watching a struggling student fight their way to success is a pride. Watching a student fail is heartrending. The look of comprehension on a student’s face is one of the great pleasures in life. The inconsequence of turning in an assignment is an invisible victory, a testament to improvement that can sometimes go unnoticed. The face of a student who is excited to be in your class can instantly turn your day around. A student that comes to find you either for help or just to chat is a welcome diversion. You find friends in students and you can have a small sense of the joys of parenthood watching the students grow, mature, and most importantly: learn.