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Why work so hard?

It's a teacher work day, and I'm taking the day off, sort of. So here's a question for you. Have you considered the reasons why you spend so much time doing the things that you do? If I sit and count my hours each day, I spend about eight hours a day working as a teacher in school. When I'm coaching tennis that's another two hours a day. I get home and decompress for about an hour usually watching some combination of The Daily Show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, PBS SpaceTime or other science videos. I spend an hour or two eating dinner usually with my girlfriend. Then two more hours preparing for class (btw I'm teaching 6 sections (overtime) with 4 preps and 2 courses that are new to me). Why is this how I'm spending my time?

1. Combating world problems of the future will require thoughtful people, and what I do as a teacher fosters the development of thoughtful people. (As I'm writing this I half think about how proud my employer would be of my dedication with the district mission statement. It's not a lie though.) Here's a quick glimpse into my brain; whenever I have a thought or read something I ask myself, "How could this not be true?" I could be saying this because I know that students or parents might read this, and I want to be as noble as possible because believing in things is hard and teachers should be things people can believe in. I could be saying this because I recognize and fear the thought tsunami that is not having a purpose or place recognized within society. I've been there and lived with people nearly sinking in aimlessness and purposelessness, and I don't want to tempt fate with my cynicism. I'm really not a cynic though. I just acknowledge what a cynical viewpoint might look like, which brings me to my next reason.

2. I receive monetary compensation, health insurance, long holiday breaks, and a retirement plan. Would I do this job if they didn't give me money so I could eat and live? Probably, but just not in the same way. I wouldn't concern myself with the common core or standardized tests or getting kids into college. If I were't paid a salary by the district, I would rent my knowledge skills to the highest bidder, grow crops and host weekly parties for like-minded individuals showcasing local thought leaders and charging for the libations. If I weren't paid by the district, I'd have to be more creative about how I pay my bills. I could air bnb my basement, be a private tutor, spend more time writing and making music, and get more sleep. But if I did that I would rarely

3. Interact with people of vastly different backgrounds. English language learners, super wealthy kids, and people on the poverty line, each have very different views on the world and its problems. I get to hear thoughts and ideas that I wouldn't otherwise come up with on my own. If I weren't doing what I'm doing my interactions would likely be limited to people with very similar backgrounds and interests to my own. Boring. I get to see what motivates other people. For me it was going to college and getting away from Colorado Springs. For some students school is a series of social interactions. Shifting thinking from those social interactions as an end of themselves to being a means to something greater is a particularly interesting puzzle.

4. Teaching people is a new puzzle everyday. Finding common ground and shared interests to build new knowledge and ask better questions makes the hours fun and interesting. Each day is different. I'd go crazy without that.

I'm really lucky. Not everyone has it as good as I do. I can even take a day off every now and then.


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