It has always come to my mind, and I believe it has, to many teachers in the profession; the regret and bitterness in an insisting thought “I shouldn’t have become a teacher “. Spending most of my career as an educator brought up this thought to my mind countless times. What raised it were the many moments where I felt dead tired, fully used up and neither mentally nor physically rewarded. Giving myself to teaching all that time, at a certain stage, I thought I had to quit before I become another teacher burnout.
I am fully committed to my profession morals, and fully aware that what I do with learners will shape their future and change their minds forever. As a teacher, I’m one of the success drivers of delivering a quality education to learners so that they can pursue a promising future. A huge responsibility that I’m willing to take but feeling tired of trying to keep up to the expectations. Why do I consider to quit teaching? My answer would compose a long list; however, I will name the most common causes to why this thought would cross a teacher’s mind.
Teaching work never finishes by the end of the school day. You will always have to shift some marking and planning for the next day, ending in making the next day even worse, probably going into cycles. If you can’t get your essential work done, you will struggle even more with your other professional duties and requisites. I have a growth mindset and cannot sit still, I know that keeping up to the expectations requires a lot of professional development. Even if you don’t have a growth mindset, it is one aspect of your evaluation to acquire new skills consistently, and to catch up with updates related to the discipline you teach. With the tight time to fit in all of these burdens you extend your “To Do” list to become longer with more bullets as overdue.
It is hard to value teachers fairly; teaching is a very overwhelming and demanding profession. It takes all your patience and have you emotionally and physically absorbed. Management keeps stating that teaching is a mission not a profession; nonetheless, they never approach it with the same perspective when it comes to appreciating teachers. Good teachers should be celebrated by all means in order to empower them to walk the bumpy path. Everyone expects teachers to do more where more is less, less desire and less stability. What in the world would then keep them teaching?
At a stage of my career I had to change positions, I left one place to join another but still as an educator. With all the better opportunities that I was offered at the new place, I always felt that something was left behind in my previous job. However, I didn’t have time to think about it since I was busy with my daily life and work routines. One day while I was swift-checking my emails, I found one message from one of my old students, whom I really liked a lot. Though she was shy, self-enclosed and a low achiever, some long story in-between made her totally different by the end of the semester I taught her in. I have a profound belief that a close relationship with the students can always empower them and motivate them. I wanted her to have more self-confidence so I encouraged her to be part of a small school competition related to the course I taught. With lots of incitation and follow up she was able to do well; she then came to me asking for more challenges. She found the experience rewarding in regards to her self-esteem and actualization. The challenge was for the two of us; I felt responsible for taking her further and feared that the experience might have a setback on her. I held myself accountable to train her for another battle, this time I sent her to a national competition. I was surprised to see her make it to the top position. One year later she left to college and majored in IT, the same discipline I taught her.
Her message was “… please have a look at the work I did here, it would mean a lot to me to have your feedback. Tomorrow I will present this, and they will decide on winners. I still remember the competition where I scored the top position, it was the best day of my life. You really pushed me forward; winning once made me a winner chaser. I was blessed to have a teacher like you…” I read the message over and over again, I felt a moment of inner peace. It was, to her, a turning point between a life of winning or one of losing.
This made it clear to me why my thought was nothing but a thought. I touched the base of what I was leaving behind when I changed my job. The learners I left behind were part of my soul. Nurturing the students was in return nurturing my soul and my noble mission. The difference that I made to this student’s life was a difference that I made to mine. I believed she can achieve and did everything to see that she would. In return this was my achievement and my valuable reward that no administration can offer.
In spite of the many disappointments and despair, a candle flame was flickering to fade the darkness and enlighten my learners’ path along with mine. My profession wasn’t about policies, curriculum and plans; it was about having a life with a purpose.
This was an eye opening moment. I have a profession where my beliefs and values can see the light each moment, leaving me rewarded and joyful. While this is something that I had in mind when I became and educator it was easy to have it overlooked and hidden below the massive work duties. I realized then that my noble mission will continue to outweigh frustration and disappointment. I had only to stay focused on it and keep reminding myself with it every day. I was ready to reply back to my student’ message saying “never mind, just doing my job “
Copyright 2015 Bashaer M. Al Kilani