Teaching is one of those day-to-day things. You measure success in increments. Bits and pieces. Sometimes it feels like you've been dropped behind enemy lines, alone in the trenches, with no backup or support. Sometimes it feels like you're on top of the world, the best thing since chocolate ice cream. Unfortunately, that feeling never lasts very long and before you know it, you're slogging through trenches filled with buzz-words and state mandates and bureaucratic nonsense once again.
It's a roller coaster ride. Mean and vicious, up and down, and things have changed. A lot. In both education and in teens. I can say this: teaching ain't all Dead Poets Society or Mr. Holland's Opus. Lots of times, it feels more like Platoon, and you're Willem Dafoe, just trying to make it to that chopper before getting cut down, and you never, ever make it (and hey - that's a lot like being a writer. A writer AND a teacher? What am I, sadistic?)
Anyway, you have to treasure the little moments. To not worry about the hundreds of students who didn't listen or read or take to heart anything you said, or the ones who will forget you as soon as they've tossed their caps into the air. You have to remember and hold on to the one or two you think you impacted, because that's the only way to survive.
|Fellow teacher, left - middle, future author - right, me.|
Because that's what it's all about. Not the dreams of being Robin Williams carried on the shoulders of a bunch a prep-students, or Richard Dreyfuss adored by hundreds. It's about that one student who remembers you, and says "Thank you."