Friday, April 20, 2012

Being A Teacher is Hard, But It's Pretty Much the Best Job Ever

Yesterday I had the privilege of being both a preschool aid and a college English teacher. In the morning, I subbed for Addie's preschool class for the second time this week. When I signed on to do this a few weeks ago, I didn't know what to expect. I mean...teaching 4-year-olds is very different from teaching 18 and 19-year-olds.


The answer is yes...and no.

One of the major differences I noticed right away was the level of energy these kids had. So eager and excited to be there. So curious and ready to learn. No one was on their cell phone, or falling asleep, or checking Facebook, or rolling their eyes at you. They were genuinely happy to be there.

One by one they all came into the room and looked around for their teachers so they could give them a big hug. I was new to them and I still received about 500 hugs this week. In addition to loving school...the kids also love their teachers. And in return, their teachers love them too. There is a very strong emotional bond at this age. The kids have 100% faith and trust in what their teachers say and do. They think everything they tell them is true and totally exciting. They smile and laugh (and sometimes scream) about everything and to my utter surprise...they also listen! 

For the most part anyway :-)

They say their prayers when told, clean up when told, trace on the lines when told, and walk in a straight line when told. "Hips and Lips" they say, over and over again (which means to put one finger by your lips to keep quiet and your other hand on your hip to keep from touching your neighbor). Ha! It is just incredible to watch, especially when you see your child doing all of these things too. You know...the child who does NOT always do these things at home :-)

I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have so much fun playing a preschool teacher aid for the week. I never though I would be good at it or have the patience for it. I have always said that college is my age group. I know how to handle that age and how to teach that age. But there is just something so special about these little ones. I know that the job of a preschool teacher is hard. Very VERY hard. And not every day is sunshine and rainbows. Not every day is time-out or meltdown free. Sometimes you have to break up fights. Sometimes you have to wipe someone's little butt. Sometimes you have to clean up puke. Sometimes you have to tie the same shoe 84 times. You get the idea. I am not sure that I was built to teach preschool as a career, but I certainly enjoyed my time. I felt loved and appreciated by the kids and that is just not something you always feel in college.

And speaking of college...

So after a 3-hour morning at preschool, I came home and took care of my two little crazies who were bursting with energy. By 5:00 I was BEAT. Like...completely drained. But it was go time for me. I had to put on my teacher pants and head to campus because I had 19 other students waiting on me. I laughed a few times on my way to class thinking about how my students would react if I made them raise their hand to go "potty" or made them all sit on a letter on the circle rug. 

When I got to class, my students looked tired. And bored. I guess I can't blame them. English isn't always exciting. I was suddenly missing all those bright little smiles I saw that morning. I was missing all the energy and eagerness to learn. 

So when I saw a group of students giggling behind a computer screen together during lab time, I figured they were watching some stupid video on YouTube and I was ready to put on my bitch face. They were suppose to be doing a collaborative assignment and here they were, not paying attention. When I walked up behind them, I noticed they were on website reading about William Faulkner (we just got done reading one of his short stories a few weeks ago). I just looked at them puzzled and then one student said, 

"Sorry. We were all just reading this article about Faulkner. Did you know that he used to write his notes on the wall of his office so that he could visualize his stories better. Wouldn't it be awesome if all English students were able to write their notes on the wall of the classroom so that we could and contrast them?"


Were these kids seriously sitting back there looking up information about an author and discussing better ways to discuss literary topics? Without being told? Were they showing a genuine interest in what I had been trying to teach them? 

It took everything I had to resist the urge to hug all three of them. I mean it's one thing to have a student tell you that you are a good teacher. That feels wonderful all by itself. But seeing them actually learn something from you and go on to be better writers because of you is an even better compliment. Maybe the best compliment ever. Sure, they aren't bouncing off walls and screaming "I LOVE YOU MRS. DAVIS" like the preschool kids, and frankly I would be a little concerned if they were, but the fact that they are listening and showing some enthusiasm is enough for me. They asked me if I was teaching 102 next semester because they all really wanted to take a class with me again and that just made me feel awesome. I felt loved and appreciated. For the second time that day.

I went home from class last night feeling pretty damn good. I know not every day as a teacher feels this good. In fact, if you remember my posts from last semester, you know that not every semester is this good either. It's freaking HARD being a teacher. But I truly believe that it is one of the most rewarding jobs out there. And damn's a job I'm lucky to have :-)

Now...I want all of you to remind me of this post the next time I have a bad teacher moment. Or...Ryan Gossling can do it.

Happy Weekend everyone!


  1. My hat is off to you, Jen. I started my degree in Early Childhood and moved to accounting, which is where I have stayed. The majority of my friends are teachers here in Virginia Beach and one is about to finish her degree. I see the struggle and hard work you all endure and I couldn't imagine being in your shoes. Its hard enough having my own children critique me under their personal microscopes. I couldn't imagine a classroom full of children. Keep being the great teacher that you are!!

    1. A & E's Momma,

      THanks so much for this comment. I think any job is hard, especially if you are a momma too and trying to find that balance. But it does take a special amount of patience and compassion to teach and some days it comes easy, and other days you have to work for it. It's just so nice when other parents recognize all that. Ao thanks momma :-)

  2. Great job Jen, and I admire your dedication to teaching. My little ones absolutely adore their teachers and it makes me so happy. It's people like you that make people like me go to work and feel confident about the day that my children will have. Thank you for what you do.

    1. Aww...thanks Brandie!! That is very sweet of you to say :-)

  3. Hi,I'm a blogger friend of APG,sure do miss that girl.Finding out your a college English teacher,I'd like to be a mouse in your pocket .I have visited here before but don't think I commented.I get a little busy.But I have a grandson who lives with me and just signed up for collage at the community collage near us. North Hennepin Community College. What would be your best advise for a soon to be 18 year old ,he is also graduating early! Also ,if your not sure what you what to be yet and are just taking generals,is it worth it to start taking school loans? I have 2 grown children who did not finish there coarse and now are haunted by student debts!Thanks

    1. Don't worry Judy..I am trying to encourage the APG to make a comeback. I miss her blogging too!! But if you ever want to pick my brain about college, you can always e-mail me. But I will say that it's worth the student loans if if your grandson is serious about giving a school a try. You honestly don't know what college will be like until you attend your first semester and sometimes it takes that first year of generals to really find your way. I always knew I liked English, but it wasn't until I took my first college course that said, "YES! This is the direction I want to go". But I suppose I shouldn't mention how my major was actually Astronomy when I started. haha!

  4. Amen, Amen, Amen sista! I LOVED this post, and I can relate so much it aint even funny. I totally agree with everything you've said. Being a teacher is such an awesome, rewarding, special job, but it's also unbelievably time consuming, draining, and demanding. No matter what age you teach. I'm so glad you enjoyed teaching in the Early Years! I've just spent 3 months teaching pre-school and it was such a blast. Although I'm doing Kindergarten at the moment (seriously, they crack me up EVERY day) I think my fav age group to teach is 2nd grade, and that's a feat in itself...especially as they've started developing attitudes. Ha! Someday I'd like to teach college level too - we'll see how that goes, and if I do I know EXACTLY who to turn to ;)

    Hats off to you for inspiring your students to learn. I wish that when I'd done my BA in Ed studies and English I'd have had you as one of my teachers! Some of mine were super duper craptastic and genuinely didn't know how to make English inspiring and fun (of course there were a select few I loved, Liz in particular who I'm now friends with on Facebook and this morning she commented on my last blog post - how funny is that please?!? I'm Facebook friends with one of my professors? HAAA! No way!)

    I'm so glad you had such an awesome and rewarding day. I love days like that, especially because they keep you motivated on the horrible ones where you wonder if you can take any more, or consider if it would be best (mostly for your sanity) if you packed it all in. You have to have a fire in your belly to teach, that's for sure. I loved reading about yours :)


    1. Amanda...I knew you would totally get this post in SO many ways. What a thoughtful response, as always. I LOVE YOU MISS AMANDA!!!!!!! And P.S. I think you would be a FABULOUS college teacher too.


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