During one of my undergraduate teacher preparation courses, my professor held up a piece of rope with a knot in it and told us that there would be times when we would be overwhelmed and would question why we even became teachers. And THAT, she reminded us, is when we need to hold onto the knot in the rope. I’ve discovered that the knot is different for everybody. For me, the knot formed at a very young age when I experienced the joy of teaching my younger brother how to read. The excitement of sharing my knowledge and witnessing him grasp the rules of phonics, recognize sight words, and develop a love of reading was magical! I became a teacher at the age of six. No other career path even entered my mind.
James Bayard writes, “I am a teacher because I have experienced first hand the role education can have in lifting young people out of a cycle of disadvantage.” His article reminded me of when I chose to follow the path of teaching whereas many of my fellow scholars chose career paths of law, medicine, engineering, or business. Many people viewed my choice to teach as an “underachievement” but failed to realize both the challenges and rewards of teaching.
This problem largely goes unnoticed. Many districts, schools, and universities do not actively recruit strong teacher candidates. Some organizations even advertise the teaching career as a “stepping stone” to a better career.
Chuck Poole, a fellow educator, reminds us to be proud of what we do. Teaching really is one of the most prestigious and rewarding professions in the world. We are charged with passionately teaching students who will go into all other professions, and that amazes me!
A Pre-K teacher, Brian Smith, wrote a list of some reasons why he teaches. He encourages fellow teachers to “Keep in mind what inspired you to begin with, and remember the reasons you chose to take on this daunting, wonderful job.” I encourage you to take some time and make your own list and review it whenever you need those reminders!
How do you “Hold onto the knot in the rope” during the difficult days? Leave a comment below!