It won’t come as a surprise to anyone when I say that teaching is extremely stressful. In 20 years, I’ve probably thought about leaving teaching at least a thousand times. Every September I question my decision to go back at it for another year. Two months of summer vacation washes away in an instant. Like it never happened at all. Non-teachers don’t get it. Teaching isn’t like other professions, thank goodness! The reason I was drawn to teaching in the first place was precisely for that reason. It isn’t like every other career. It isn’t an office job. It isn’t a job with lots of traveling. It isn’t a job with demanding weekend hours away from home. It isn’t 9-5. It isn’t. It isn’t. But what is it? Ha! It is relentless and I’m drawn back to it time and again.
With all the stress, the biggest is the responsibility of those kids that walk through your door every morning. Really! It all boils down to that. Reading scores, evaluations… none of it matters if we fail to really see what’s right in front of us. As those kids walk through your door in the morning, look them in the eyes. Look them in the eyes, because their eyes will tell you if they had a bad night, if they’re hungry, angry, sad, or excited to see you. Look them in the eyes, because that’s how you’ll notice the little things that are really the big things. The things we reflect on and, in retrospect wish we had paid some attention.