Truth be told, teaching was not my first career choice.
What a long, strange trip it’s been. Back in the early 2000s, as a young college student in Boston, I set out to be, of all things, a politician. Yes, you read that correctly. When I decided to attend Suffolk University, a medium-sized institution in the heart of Beantown, I had my heart set on going into politics. The idea of teaching the youth of America was nowhere to be found floating among the ADD-induced thoughts that constantly ran through my mind. And yet…here I am.
So, how did I get here?
I guess you could say the writing was on the wall for many years. It just took me a while to see it. But when I did, I embarked on the greatest professional journey I could’ve ever imagined.
Teaching is a calling. It’s a Jedi-like force that pushes us through the doors of our classrooms day in and day out. Regardless of the problems in education (and there are many), we return to our desks prior to the ringing of the next morning’s opening bell because we know, in our hearts, that what we do can and will make a difference in our world.
Yet, teaching remains the profession most often joked about (and hated upon) by all those blinded by the irrational assumption that teachers are overpaid, lazy, and selfish.
Teachers make the world go round. We provide the youth of our country with the academic and social enrichment they’ll need to thrive in a rapidly evolving society. Whether they care to admit it or not, those who criticize educators were, at some point, irrevocably mentored by someone in the very same position they now attempt to delegitimatize.
With all the noise surrounding our profession, it can be hard to stay motivated. At some point in all of our careers, we will have that moment in which we question our purpose. We will ponder the impact we’re actually having on our students.
We’ll eventually find ourselves asking one, monumental question…
One that’ll shape the rest of our lives…
Is it worth being a teacher?
As I sit here reflecting upon my time as a classroom teacher, I can say, without the slightest of hesitations, that teaching is the most satisfying career imaginable. I mean, sure, would I say no to being the immensely inspirational Barack Obama or the devilishly handsome (and, um, athletic) Tom Brady? Of course not. But, I’m neither of those two men. I’m me. I’m Ryan McHale. And I’m an educator. As are you. Together, we’re shaping the world.
So when you’re sitting in your classroom after an unbelievably tough day, door closed, lights dimmed, tears cascading down your cheeks, remember that you’re here for a reason. You’re an educator because you believe in children. ALL children. It’s not an easy job, but it’s the one that called on you because the universe knew you had the ability to positively influence the amazing kids attending your school.
It takes a strong person to do this job – a leader. If you don’t already consider yourself an educational leader, it’s time to start doing so right now. It’s not about being some kind of “Edu-Hero” or “Educational Influencer” with tens of thousands of followers. Forget that nonsense. Be unabashedly you. Stand tall. Teach passionately. Help amplify the voices of the young men and women in your presence.
Forget about simply surviving the school year. It’s time to believe that you’ll find yourself (and your students) thriving in the classroom. You deserve it…
…and so do the kids.
Until next time,
About Ryan McHale
Ryan McHale has just started his 9th year as an English Language Arts teacher in Milford, Massachusetts. He’s presently working with 8th graders in hopes of getting them academically and socially prepared for the challenges that await them in high school. In addition to fulfilling his role as a classroom teacher, Ryan serves as the Curriculum Coordinator of his building (Grades 6-8), serves as the advisor to the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, and is currently working to earn his Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of New England.
Visit Ryan’s Website: www.ponderingeducation.com