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.