How Do you Turn Off the Teacher Switch?

How do you turn off the “teacher” switch?

I don’t think you ever do. My mother has been retired from teaching now for almost twenty years and she still has “back to school” dreams.

And her handwriting is perfection even when writing out her grocery list.

A teacher always has her profession dancing around in the back of her head. Summer vacations away from home often include purchases of posters and pictures for the classroom, or books and stories you plan to read aloud to your students. Even reading the newspaper or a magazine will usually solicit an “oooh, this is interesting! It’s a perfect anecdote for my theme of ___________.” And a copious amount of ripping or printing ensues.

Revisiting course outlines, projects, and lessons, tweaking and editing and looking for diamonds of inspiration.

Rereading texts just to see if there is another “angle” or perspective from which to approach and present… searching for some way more riveting. (Lets just say Oedipus, Frankenstein and Jay Gatsby were my companions this summer).

I think it’s because teaching is anything but static. It’s fluid both in subject matter and, blessedly, in students. It’s a new batch of fresh young minds every year.

No, the switch is a stubborn one. Rarely is it off. I’ve found it impossible to sleep some nights because I have motion sickness from all the essays I’ve read and marked. I’m pretty sure it’s the volumes of text I’ve read rather than age that is the contributing factor to my need for bifocals.

And now that we are revving up for the new school year MY teacher dreams have started. There is this one where I walk a student to the office then return to my classroom to find the rest of my students have disappeared. Or the one where, for some reason, I’m wearing no pants.  But no one (thankfully) seems to notice.

The switch will never go away because it’s become a part of who I am. Most of my friends are teachers and, try as we might, when we’re away from the salt mines intent on keeping “work” at work, the conversation ultimately comes back to our practice.

We talk of our hopes and disappointments and aspirations for the days ahead.

I think it’s like this for most people whose “job” has become more than a job but rather a way of life.

And some days this is disheartening and exhausting,

but most days facilitating change in a young person’s life is a pretty darn good reason to get up in the morning.


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