January is a time of new beginnings but it’s also a time for reminiscing. This week I’ve been remembering some highlights from my teaching career.
The first few years I taught, I was known as a “floating teacher.” Sounds like I taught water aerobics or underwater basket weaving. Actually it was American history. There weren’t enough classrooms at our school so I was assigned to other teachers’ classrooms during their planning periods. This situation is far from ideal. Not only do you have to carry a ton of books and papers with you, but also you can never remember just where you are supposed to be. Several times I would begin a class only to have some wise guy in the front seat go, “Yo, Teacher. This is algebra class, not history.”
After two years I finally had a classroom to call my own. It was a run-down trailer with holes in the floor. Until the new school was built, I called it home. In the winter the wall heaters would burn those sitting nearby while the rest of us froze. More than once we had to stop class when someone scorched their jeans. In warmer weather the air conditioner roared so loud it sounded like a 747 taking off. I had to yell to be heard, but if we turned it off we hyperventilated from the heat.
The holes in the floor eventually became home for a family of mice. One day I noticed my students were more alert than usual after lunch. When I turned around I saw Mr. Mouse and his family playing tag behind my desk.
I have a deep appreciation for what teachers do. I strongly believe that instead of paying celebrities exorbitant amounts of money for entertaining us, we should be investing in something that really matters: our children and their education. Teachers touch more than the future, they change lives. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could figure out a way to adequately compensate them?
Someday maybe someone will come up with the funding to do so, but until then the truly dedicated teachers will continue to teach—not because they will ever be rich or famous, but because they love children and what they do, changing the world one child at a time.