Sunday, April 20, 2014

Why Do I Do This?

Post by Connie King:  Connie is in her 25th year of teaching. She currently teaches English & Journalism at Bettendorf High School & is the Publications adviser for both our school newspaper & yearbook. You can follow her @Connie_King925

We've all had those days in which we wonder why we are not plumbers instead of teachers.  Or ditch diggers.  Or anything other than dealing with teenagers, day after frustrating day.  I had one of those days recently and went home frustrated, burned out, angry, and feeling even worse because I felt all of the above.  I've been teaching for twenty-five years; why do I keep doing this?

And then I received an email from a former student who is now a successful sportswriter in Chicago.  In an interview, he talked about his first journalism teacher (me!) and how influential that teacher was to his current work.  He even mentioned my name.

And I thought “Wow.”

A few days later, I heard from another former student, who also gave me credit for his success in journalism.

And I thought “Wow” again.

And then I thought . . .
…about the former student who graduated at least fifteen years ago and still refers to me as her “mentor”;
…about the former student who graduated twenty years ago and sent me a note that said, “If it hadn't been for you, I wouldn't be doing what I love”;
…about the current student who calls me her “mother figure” because she no longer lives with an abusive parent but needs a shoulder to cry on once in a while;
…about the senior student who stopped in the other day to say “hi” because he was in the hallway and hadn't talked to me for a couple of years;
…about the student who invited me to a milestone birthday party because I was her favorite teacher;
…about the student who thanked me for being understanding when she was absent for a couple of weeks because of a serious illness;
…about the student I ran into at the pet store who asked me how my cats were, then introduced me to her friend as her “favorite teacher”;
…about the student who couldn't wait until I walked into the room to tell me she had been accepted at the college she really wanted to attend;
…about . . . well, you get the idea.

Why do I still do this?
Because of the kids.

It’s the kids.

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