Education is a funny business. It's almost like American politics ...polarized opinions, big personalities and a pendulum that swings back and forth. Teachers are often caught in the middle of this maelstrom, being pulled on all sides by parents, kids, unions, employers, administration and society. One of the hardest jobs teachers have is walking that fine line of doing whats best for students without being pulled 6 ways from Sunday.
Like everyone else, my career has been full of ups and downs. Here's the kicker though... what I thought at the time were the worst things to happen to me during my tenure, turned out to be the best. How can that be, you say? Well... gather round the campfire and let me tell you a tale :)
Example 1: The Rolling Stones "you can't always get what you want" theorem
I wanted to stay at Charles Best Secondary school so bad. It was my home. I loved the staff, students and courses I was teaching. But the lay-off/recall process had other plans for me... after a summer of waiting and uncertainty, I ended up at Riverside with @jdaskew08. I was miserable at first (and not just because I had to work with Askew... though that is reason enough! =D). I tried to get back to Charles Best the next year...but it didn't work out. Then things started happening... I met @chrkennedy and Scott Robinson. I started taking leadership roles, mentoring kids, taking on student teachers and becoming a part of the school. If I went back, I doubt I would be the person I am today. The lesson? Thank God for unanswered prayers.
Example 2: Solidarity forever - and the happy, unintended consequences.
October 2005 - I had just bought my first place and the day of my first mortgage payment we went on strike. For two weeks we walked the line and it was the best thing that ever happened to our school. Now don't get me wrong, I rather had been teaching. I am not a huge fan of the BCTF (I do love my local, they do a lot of great work for the teachers in our district) but we were getting the shaft at that time. So, like everyone else I walked. Something funny stated to happen as that strike dragged on... we became tighter as a staff. We sang songs, shared stories, ate hot dogs (thanks Ron), talked to parents and kids, waved at cars, got eggs thrown at us & flipped off, hugged & kissed and everything in between. The Lesson? Unifying moments often come at the worst of times.
Just like in your private life, the universe will throw curve balls at you. Look for the unexpected joys and happy surprises that the ups and downs of life as a teacher can bring :)
Oh and BTW to all you new teachers reading this... there will be days. Days when you walk out to the parking lot, get in your car and start smashing your head on the steering wheel. You'll lement about your choice in becoming a teacher... we all have. But remember this: there will be days when you walk out of that building like you are walking on cloud 9 because you just made a HUGE impact in a child's life. And that is what makes teaching the best job in the world.