There are many opportunities to celebrate achievements, and that's not just the "final" achievements that come through awards assemblies, but I'm talking about the little day-to-day successes our students reach. For some, it might be learning to tie a shoe. For others, it includes the ability to correctly identify parts of speech. One student finally masters subtraction with zeros, while another learns how to plot lines on coordinate graphs. With our students, there are all kinds of achievements - celebrations of reaching just one more step in the learning process. There are very few jobs that celebrate the steps along the path to final production like this one does.
While that is true, our students also challenge us...in a good way. Students keep teachers on their toes by asking questions. Any teacher worth his salt will continuously work on growing in knowledge and in skill. I love coming up with new ways to engage my students, but I also enjoy learning new content. If I don't know it well, you can bet some student somewhere will stump me...
...Which leads to humility. As much as I don't like getting stumped, getting stumped reminds me that I am not flawless - that I, too, am a work in progress. There is another commonality between my students and myself, and while I might try to cover for my shortcomings, it truly does keep me humble.
We laugh every day. If we aren't laughing and smiling and enjoying ourselves in Room 404, something is not going right. I have the infamous Hoggatt Frown that has been passed down through generations. It is a hereditary facial expression that, even though we try, we don't have any control over. It is often mistaken from grumpiness or conceit. That said, my students can still tug at the edges during our interactions in class, and for that I am thankful.
When a teacher refers to a class as "my kids", she usually means it. We kid about raising children who aren't really ours, but in a way they are. The teacher can become another parent in a way, and we are proud when "our kids" make good. I love to be there when somebody jumps an academic hurdle, and yes, I feel as if I have jumped it right alongside him. Sometimes I'm even more proud than his parents. I've invested a lot into "my kids" and they make me feel great when they see their own growth.
We wonder how the kids can be so great. With all of the things they have to overcome in today's world - the influences of alcohol, warped media, divorce, pornography, video games, drugs, human trafficking, and violence - sometimes coming directly from the home - some of my students have seen and experienced much more horrific things than I have. And yet, I can spot such potential in them. I pray their attitudes not be disfigured because of the crowds they hang around, that they not slip into the same loose lives that they see around them. For some, it's a long shot, but the potential is there. Perhaps we can break the cycle of drug abuse, generational poverty, and violence. Hope is a big word, but it's also the right word, if only we can get students to see it the same potential that I see.
Again, this must be a partial list of the benefits students provide for a teacher. To my peers, please look for these and others as we begin a new school year this fall.