Saturday, October 13, 2007

Working It

I've had plenty of jobs, though career-wise I've always been a teacher. I actually have my dream job right now; I love what I do and the place where I do it. I'm a history and government teacher and that's a great part of why I love what I do: I get paid to read and talk about the things that I love.

I write about my job and my students every once in a while, so this blog is filled with reflections on my work. But the prompt at Sunday Scribblings got me thinking about why I love my job.

I love the autonomy of my world. The classroom is mine and I guide our discussions. I can be flexible so as to engage the students and myself. I can think about something that interests me and spend the entire day focusing on that. Most recently, thanks to a couple of articles in Newsweek magazine, I was thinking about the idea of women and power. So all of my classes spent a few days talking about that. We talked about women in ancient India in 2nd period; women and income inequality in 3rd period, women and voting and representation in 6th period, and women in colonial history in 8th period. I was excited; the students were engaged. It was a really good couple of days.

The autonomy that I enjoy so much is largely a function of the fact that I teach at an independent college prep school in central New Jersey. No federally-mandated test is going to come along and assess my success. This is not to say that I don't feel any responsibility to my students. I feel a terrific obligation and think a great deal about where my students are headed (college....all of them) and how well what they have learned from me will serve them there. I work methodically to improve their skills and, because my classes are small, I know exactly where the students are in that journey.

I've taught many other places, and while I've always enjoyed that work, it hasn't always been the same. I think that it's a luxury and privilege to teach at my school. And as I look at the bright faces in my classroom I hope that they can find the same level of satisfaction when they enter the world of work.


thefirecat said...

I know the type of school well (I live in Central NJ myself) and I cherish--absolutely cherish--the class I get to teach at Gwynedd-Mercy twice a week, for exactly that same reason. We get to actually talk about IDEAS! instead of just "how will I pass this state-mandated placement test" which is all the kids in JC want to talk about. It's hard to convince those kids that not only is it okay to have cosmic ideas and talk about them (while still learning what a coordinating conjunction is and how to punctuate it) but that it's in fact crucial to their success as functioning members of society.

And don't get me started on NCLB.

tumblewords said...

Lucky students! Lucky you! Enjoyed the enthusiasm in your post and there's no doubt in my mind that you're a jewel of a teacher.

gautami tripathy said...

Oh, that connects! I teach in a govt school. I like the flexibility of teaching and all that it entails. I prepare my students for life too.

As you say, TEACHING is my dream job!

Patois said...

I've run across many teachers today. All of the teachers seem to really believe in their calling. That's so wonderful.