Recently I've been living the high life. The teacher high life -- summer holidays. It really is a high life: beaches, hammocks, ice creams, friends, family and the odd mixture of barley and hops.
There's no denying it, teachers get great holidays. But that's not the best thing about teaching. Actually, it's far from it. If holidays were enough, every person would be a teacher, right?
So, the question remains: why would you be a teacher?
Now, this post could easily move into a keyboard warrior post about the hardships and challenges martyrs in every staff room face each and every day (which is completely true -- there is a lot to deal with as a teacher). But every job, occupation, career and vocation has hardships and challenges.
So here's what we're going to do today -- we're going to look at some slightly different things that make teaching an incredible job, career and vocation.
Dressing up like a superhero or character becomes the norm.
Whether it is Book Week, sports carnivals, project presentations or some kind of celebration, you will be coated in face paint, fake facial hair or a top hat at some point. You'd be amazed how creative you can become with the clothes (and paint) lying around your home.
You get to embrace -- and actually use -- silliness and fun.
Remember all of those times when you were a kid and your parents or older siblings told you to stop being silly? Forget about that.
Trying to engage kids in some persuasive language debate? Why not have them pretend to be pigeons and walk around in a bird-like fashion? Then, throw on the video "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" and argue about who should be in charge of driving the bus.
Ridiculousness, some seriousness and lots of creativity will ensue. If you get genuinely excited about teaching and discovering, your kids will too.
When a kid gives you an "I-actually-just-did-that" smile.
Nearly every teacher out there has this reason near the top of their list. Also called "Aha! Moments" or "The Lightbulb Moment", this part of teaching gets teachers woozy, inspired and a little bit teary at times.
From a completely biased perspective, I love the way my wife explains these moments: "You're giving me goosebumps!"
These moments are genuinely incredible.
Whether it is a kid speaking up for a friend, finally understanding fractions, creating a beautifully descriptive piece of writing, getting their first best friend or simply sharing their idea in front of the class, when they do something they never thought possible, they can't help but light up.
Every day your brain is punched by random and amazing things.
Seriously, I just discovered what the meaning of life is at the end of last year. A student of mine raised this question as a part of an inquiry project and proceeded to fall down the rabbit hole.
After weeks and weeks of reflection, inquiry, surveying, thinking, querying and perplexing, she came up with something profound: you give life meaning. This was a 12-year-old kid, who originally asked this question to sort of stir the pot, but couldn't help but discover something amazing. (Actually it was so amazing she not only came and presented her findings to our whole staff, but has also been nominated for a TED Talk.)
Yes, it's true, there are huge challenges, including time constraints, personalities to grapple with, needless administration and various pressures on you each and every minute.
However, there's also amazing things happening around you every day.
The tricky part is not always focusing on the hardships, but changing your focus to the good stuff. And the holidays are pretty great, too.