Perks of Teaching

When I turned four, I made a major decision in my life: I wanted to teach.

I don’t remember closing my eyes or making a wish like Austyn Grace did beside her ladybug birthday cake, but I set my direction toward  growing up and becoming a teacher.

In my elementary and secondary school years, my mom used to threaten to throw me outdoors to “get the wind blown off” because I loved to stay inside and read.

Something else drew me to the teaching profession.  When I taught my dolls, it didn’t happen, but when I read to my younger brother, I witnessed a transformation that sent electricity flowing through me.

Learning happened, whether the discovery that ice pops are very cold but worth the frozen sensation left in the mouth, or any other discovery that amazed!

Eyes pop and realization descends upon the brain cells. In this case, Taylor Faith’s eyes and her open mouth tell the story of discovery.

When that moment of understanding happens, it still grabs me with sheer joy every time  I see others learn something new.

I went on to earn a B.A. in English from Houghton College and teach students from seventh grade through graduate school in a career that spanned a total of 32 years.

To any who say teachers only work from 9-3 and have summers off, I would invite such a naive person to follow a conscientious teacher around for a week or two.  I researched my lectures without the aid of Google, took courses evenings and summers, and graded short answer quizzes like weekly vocabulary papers everywhere I went. Parents, students, and those I did not know at all may remember me at band competitions, as I waited in a doctor’s office or before a scheduled meeting. I carried a stack of papers and a selection of red, green or purple pens. The grading that required concentrated quiet, like compositions and essay exams, got done at home, sometimes after everyone else in the house slept. At one point I had students submit blanks tapes with their compositions. I read their papers aloud onto tape and made oral comments and corrections as I graded. I never shortened the grading time, but I watched students’ writing make real progress. I still hear from former students via Christmas cards or social networking; they write well and appreciate the training they received.

And the look that comes from learning still quickens my heart!

At a luau this summer, Kelsey heard a sound over head. Her head tilted and she riveted her eyes on the sky. No, it wasn’t a bird she heard, but an airplane. The pictures from her books came to life and she sat mesmerized as her mind made the connection between picture and reality.

And that’s still the thrill that all teachers know first hand! I watched our sons as they made discoveries and now, I can observe the same recognition in our granddaughters.

Here’s a salute to those who teach and know the joy of their chosen profession!


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