Those of you who have unloaded hay on hot day know that there is one thing that absolutely must be done before calling it a day. Every old farmer knows what I’m talking about. As the summer sun slips behind the loafing pen, every true farmer will lean back against a barn beam, pop open a can of soda, let it wash the day’s dust down his throat, and just watch the barn get dark on the most beautiful pile of hay he has ever seen. These peaceful moments keep many hard-working farmers sane and satisfied.
What is keeping teachers sane and satisfied?
As advertised, teaching may be more missional than business like. The sacrifice is robust, the hourly wage barely competes with McDonalds, and who wants to be trapped indoors with a crowd of anti-academic adolescents on a beautiful fall day? Furthermore, some of those anti-academic adolescents (and a few of their parents) treat the supposedly “valuable” product you are offering as if it belongs in a yard sale “free box.”
I know these things are true at some level, but I’d like to kick the martyr complex out of the room and enjoy the other side of the coin for a moment. I’m going to lean back against a barn beam, take a long swig of soda, and list ten overlooked things that make teaching a wonderful job! *
- Freedom from competition: Outside of the public system, we are not competing for these jobs. That frees us to be collaborators instead of competitors!
- Great for active people: Contrary to the normal academic rap, teaching school is very active. I always tell my students that I am a professional athlete. I get paid to play basketball, softball, volleyball, and soccer!
- Whole groups of people are FORCED to listen to you talk: Who doesn’t like when everyone stops to listen to your blathering? These moments are normally hard to come by, but in our profession, we have a captive audience. Our students are forced to listen to us chitter away all day…of course our chittering is always worth thousands of tuition dollars.
- Holidays: When I watch my friends trudge back to the snow blown construction site on Dec 26…enough said.
- Great for married life: I don’t get it, but my pregnant wife simply refuses to join me on my summer roofing jobs. During the school year, however, we find that our lives intersect on a daily basis in our classroom. I applaud her for making my job, OUR job.
- Great for single life: Before my wife caught my eye, I launched my teaching expeditions from a little bachelor pad. Single life afforded me the time and thirst for excitement that kept my students coming back for more. I was able to spend a lot of time with them outside class. It was in those days that I learned that a bottle of Sparkling Cider and a block of Munster Cheese will grease the hinges on any conversation.
- Great for parents: Your schedule will mesh well with your children’s schedule. Your Thanksgiving break will be the same as your child’s Thanksgiving break. However, teaching parents will need to find creative ways to help their children learn how to do manual labor.
- Teaching connects you to your community: As an extension of the church, the school has the potential to be a real community hub. Gird up your loins and bolt away from the school that continues to breed community alienation.
- Your hobbies are valuable to your work: Do you know how many people will go to work tomorrow just so they can support their weekend hobbies? Working for the weekend is a bad way to live. Get creative and bring your hobbies to school. I like to archery hunt with my boys while my wife does something like “stew in a pumpkin” with the ladies.
- Diversity: Try telling your corporate office that you would like to work ten months out of the year, and would like two months each year to experiment with other jobs. I recognize that some school administrators may be paid to work at school year around, but let’s be honest. Most of us walk away from school for two months each year. Many of us do need to work hard during the summer in order to make it financially. Nonetheless, we get to try our hand at something different for two months each year.
*This list is in no particular order and does not cover some of the most common teaching “goodies” like the opportunity to be a lifelong learner or equipping Kingdom citizens.
CONTRIBUTOR: Kyle Lehman