Monday, June 25, 2012

On Educators and Employment

Although I really enjoy what I do...sometimes I wonder what life would have been like had I followed a different path.  Not that I really want to try out that theory, but every once in awhile life throws these little "what if" scenarios at you so that you can either appreciate what you have...or start to make changes toward something better for yourself.  I'd say that on average...this happens to me about every year or so in one way or another.  Sometimes it is looking at a room differently...and I go all about changing the furniture around and moving pictures from one wall (or room) to another.  Other times it is in my diet and exercise plan (which is currently nonexistent, but whatever) and I end up losing some weight and feeling better about myself overall. 

But today's dreaming was about the vocation I've chosen and the fact that I have now been at it for 27 years.  Not necessarily in the same job...but in the same industry.  I've seen friends retire from teaching recently, and other friends take on different challenges and responsibilities, and I suppose it has made me think.  Of all of the jobs I might have done other than the one that I do now...I probably would have enjoyed being a schoolteacher. I love projects...beginning something that has an end to it, watching people learn something, and every September - to this day - I think that I need to load up on school supplies for some insane reason.  Not for my kids, either.  For ME.

Not that I was particularly called to do this, just so you know.  It crossed my mind when I was in college along with careers in journalism, law, and computer programming.  I let it slide because people kept telling me that I was particularly unsuited to least in a K-12 setting.  People who should my mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and some sisters-in-law...who were all "living the dream" so to speak. 

Personally, I honestly believe that teaching is a calling much like the medical field, the ministry, and owning your own business.  You can major in education...but if you don't have a true love for are going to freak out completely during your student teaching, burn out fast once you get there, or end up on administrative leave for doing something boneheaded like telling a student the truth instead of what their parents want to hear.  Considering all of that...I was clearly not called.  I considered teaching the "family business" so to speak.  I come from a family of educators and entertainers.

I wasn't called to entertain, either.  Unless you count sitting here being transparent.

Other reasons for not I also find for staying out of the realm of education are fairly straightforward.  The fact that children that are not related to me tend to get on my nerves over time.  I find that the suck-up kids or the slackers try my patience.  I also have way too much of "sticking up for the underdog" in my DNA to be "fair" to any kid who is a bully, spoiled, or a general pain in the rear end.  I understand that we must treat them all the same...and for me...that would be impossible.  Not to mention the ridiculous amount of bureaucracy that comes along with it all.  The one hidden skill set that I have is insight on how to make something easier.  This skill set would not be welcomed or useful in this environment...and it would likely annoy me to no end. 

Perhaps I would have ended up as an administrator...but even that is highly unlikely considering that those spots are somewhat political as well.  I'm not really a political person.  I am respectful to everybody, but I do have a problem with those who want more respect than they deserve just because they think they can demand it from me.  As Madea says, "I don't play that."

I do, however, have a very strong respect for teachers in general.  For people who have to get information into the head of children without losing their attention (and losing their own minds in the process.)  Who have to grade endless papers while having to supplement supplies in their classrooms to teach in the manner that they feel will educate most appropriately.  Who have to endure continuous training throughout their careers and have to concern themselves with getting kids past an ever-changing line of "pass/fail" to be considered adequate.  All of this while dealing with helicopter parents, bullying, political correctness, Federal and state mandates, paperwork, budget cuts, unpaid furlough days and children with the attention span of a gnat.

Most of them are in it because they love it...and because they are called.  The rest just want a job where they have summers and holidays off.  The funny thing?  They think we can't tell...but we can.  Just like we can tell that the lady who is such a royal pain at the DMV is doing a "job."  She works to make enough money to survive.  Not to live in the manner she wants, and not to give anything back to the people she encounters. 

A lot of people are dealing with that kind of life in this economy.  They are so accustomed to feeling either good about what they do, or compensated enough not to care that they have never really looked at what they are being offered in the place that they are...if they are employed at all.  Instead of being angry because the benefits are changing or they are being asked to do more for the same pay...they need to look at what they DO have. 

I suppose that is where my thinking has taken me in the past couple of days as all of this has gone through my mind.  Instead of thinking of what I will get out of a job that I do...I should be thinking about what I have to offer instead. 

In light of that, I am given the opportunity to help people every day of my life.  I can decipher financial statements and can write things in a way that is understandable.  I come into contact with numerous people either in passing or because I am helping them with something.  What I do is noble and helps the public good.  Perhaps not in the same way that a teacher does...but sometimes in exactly the same way.

When I explain why something won't work or help someone understand how something could be better...I am making them better at their jobs.  When I go over something with someone as they do it...I am teaching them skills that will make it possible for them to approach the next customer they serve with more confidence.

I guess, in truth, we are all teachers.  If we are parents, friends, healers, educators, advisors, nurturers, or creators...we are all the same in that one basic aspect.

While I will not be enjoying the sunshine of a fair June day today like some of my "teacher friends"...I will be inside working with paper and people, numbers and knowledge, and concepts and interactions.  It is a calling as well since I am frequently reminded by friends and family that they have no idea how I do what I do.  I assume that they mean this in the best possible way.  Surely they do. 

And I suppose that I needed to see it in the best possible way as well.  I am grateful for where I've been to get me to where I am...and I just have to keep trusting that this is where God wants me to be until further notice. 

So, if you are grumbling a little bit this morning about having to get up early to do a job that you don't particularly like, feel suited for, or you've begun to feel is taking advantage of you...flip the script.  Instead of seeing it as what you GET...see it as an opportunity for you to GIVE.  I know that I'd personally love it if everyone I encountered today was of the same mindset.

Wouldn't you?

1 comment:

  1. As someone who has spent every one of my 27 "summers OFF" teaching, learning or going to graduate school, I can appreciate someone who totally GETS it. I have no doubt that if you had gone into the family business you would be an administrator. Schools need leaders with your organization, passion, common sense and humor. As someone who possesses only the passion part, I will finish right where I the classroom.