Teaching also has a high-- a high unlike anything I've ever experienced (insert druggie jokes as you wish...), a high so great that when I get one, I'm usually giddy and giggly for hours. I have a need to tell everyone how great life is (it's probably pretty annoying to be around a teacher in the middle of a high). But the teacher's high can be illusive. There's no guaranteed or expected time of it's arrival. Sometimes I can go months without having one... those are usually the roughest months of the year-- right before Spring Break, sometimes at the end of a marking period when parents get a little... uhem... overly involved, or before the end of the school year. It's kind of like those long runs when you run out of steam and no matter what you do, you just can't gather enough energy to pick up your feet. Too long without a teaching high and a teacher feels worn down, burned out, ready to give up. You can tell when a teacher hasn't had a high in a while. They walk a little hunched over; they don't look kids in the face when they pass in the hallway; their voices are always on edge. Everything sets them off.
Today, I got two teaching highs back to back. Yesterday, I spoke with a student who was a behavior problem from day one. I decided to just be honest with him and tell him like it was. I told him, "Ya know, you kind of act like a butt head. It's a shame because your pretty smart. I really wish you wouldn't act like that because I think we'd get along in class a lot better." He nodded and left. Today, at the end of the day, he handed me an Organic Green and Black's Chocolate and Cocoa bar and said he was sorry. What made this present even more special is the fact that yesterday I wrote and read an essay to his class as a model for an essay they'd later write. In it, I told the class that I was addicted to and loved both coffee and chocolate. I didn't even make the connection between the essay and the chocolate he gave me until a while after he left.
Right before that, I had to kick a student who has anger management issues out of class for losing his temper and yelling and swearing at me for telling him not to talk while I was talking. Even after I spoke with him in private he was pretty fired up. But about 20 minutes after school was over, he came back to my room and asked to talk with me. Not only did he apologize, but he also told me this was the first time he ever went to someone to talk an issue out after he made a mistake-- he was calm, collected, and very mature the entire time. He was grinning from ear to ear and kept saying this was a lot easier than he imagined. He shook my hand and when he walked out the door, he was so proud of himself; that was so wonderful to see.
I don't know if people who aren't teachers really understand how big those two moments are for us teachers (and for those kids). These both seem like pretty simple things to most people, but today I saw two kids starting to make positive change in their lives. It's such an awe inspiring thing to witness. It makes me feel so hopeful for their future, so proud of their progress (and we've only had a week of school). Teaching highs remind me that my job isn't always about teaching literature... sometimes it's just being with kids while they learn how to become mature adults. A teaching high can last for seconds, minutes, days, weeks-- it all just depends. Mine is still going strong. And it makes me feel like I can change the world, that I can and am really making a difference. I truly love my job and am so blessed to teach kids.
Happy Friday everyone. I hope you find your natural high this weekend, either on a long run, hanging out with family, or just doing something you love.