Thursday, February 04, 2010

Days like today

Working for a large corporate: R30,000 per month. Moments like I had today: priceless. Days like today make teaching worthwhile

I don't want to go into too many details, but I have to share a fabulous moment with you. One of the girls I teach is having serious problems at home. Her friend's mother came to me (!!!) because she was concerned about her. So I took some decisions and put a few plans into place. Today when I informed this pupil about them, and explained why I had taken those actions, she just about burst into tears, threw her arms around me and thanked me!

I was blown away by her response.

You know, I do this job because I love it. I do it because I love being with teenagers and trying to teach them to think, to broaden their horizons, to help them have those 'A-HA!' moments. There is nothing better than seeing the lightbulb go on for them. I just LIVE for those moments.

The pastoral stuff that goes with teaching is NOT why I do my job. I usually hate the pastoral stuff. It's messy, it's complicated, and it usually requires TONS of admin. When I have to make pastoral decisions, I usually make them as objectively as I can and try to keep myself as much as arms' length as I can. I never really know whether what I do makes any difference, or whether the decisions I make are the right ones, but I try to do the pastoral stuff as right as I can because I really don't like it. (Does that make sense? I don't like it, so I know that unless I make a concerted effort, I'm likely to mess it up.)

I was expecting her reaction to be one of grudging acceptance - the normal teenage response when one is faced by a disciplinarian and told how things will be from now on. Instead, I got this sudden rush of emotion and gratitude.

For whatever reason, she understood that I really do have her best interests at heart, that I really do care, and that I am taking steps to help her - and she was grateful for it.

And I realised that she probably doesn't have anyone else who really cares enough about her to do that for her at home. And so while my heart was bursting with joy that I got this one RIGHT,
my heart was breaking BECAUSE I got it right - and the implications of what that means for this poor child.

It's days like today that inspire me and keep me coming back, even though my salary isn't enough to live off. I don't do this for the money. I teach because of days like today.
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