It's official. The teaching certificate from DESE is on my desk. I am a teacher.
Actually, I have always been a teacher. The moment my hapless younger brother was born, the teacher within sprang to life fully formed, like Minerva. Just ask him. I taught him lots of things. If you put tape on the bottoms of a cat's paws, it will dance; if you spray the hardwood floor with furniture polish and slide on it, Mom will, too; if you trust your big sister, you will end up eating rocks covered in mud after having been told it's chocolate.
Not all my early teaching experiences were as successful as the ones involving my brother. My first spanking in school (Yes, Virginia, there once were such things as spankings in school.) was on the occasion of my bending over another student's desk to help him with his first grade phonics. The target my posture afforded had evidently been too tempting to pass up. I recall being indignant: I had NOT been giving away answers; I had been explaining a principle! Mrs. Herman had remained unmoved.
This past year, my first bewildering, amazing, and utterly exhausting year of official teaching, I have doubted not only my own sanity but whether or not I had any business in the classroom at all. To my surprise, I think the answer is yes. Last Friday night was graduation, and as I sat in the nosebleed section at the back of the gym and watched our seniors crossing the platform and descending, diplomas in hand, I felt a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment. Some of them were my students, and I know that a few would not have walked that aisle if I hadn't have gone above and beyond what the job required of me--if I hadn't mercilessly badgered and hounded them, cajoled and cheered, teased and encouraged, reminded and ultimately demanded more of them than they had originally been willing to give. The grins on their faces as they hugged me after the ceremony helped restore the faith that had been slipping in the face of the last grueling week of classes. Yes. I can do this. And for them, I will.
They're worth it.