Overflowing with Love
In this age of job cuts and economic uncertainty, I feel lucky to have a job. But I don’t have just any job. I get to teach. As Valentine’s Day approaches this year, I decided to express my love for . . . teaching.
I love that I get to do a job that is meaningful, creative and challenging. I love that when I arrive at school before the kids get there, I feel as though I’m at the top of a roller coaster. I love that magical point in the year when a group of people in a room transforms from a class into a community.
I love that learning is my job. I love that every day is different. I love that every kid is different. I love that I get to move all day long—physically, emotionally and intellectually. I love that my students and my job push me to think. I love that I learn new things about myself every day. I love that mistakes and criticism create growth, not stagnation. I love that there aren’t right answers but thousands of possibilities. I love that I get to emphasize the journey over the destination, the process over the product, the experience over the test.
I love that I get to teach kids to think for themselves and to do it responsibly, actively, compassionately and deeply. I love that I get to remind jaded teenagers that learning is thrilling. I love that we can connect with our 4-year-old selves who loved learning about anything and everything from the way owls blink to the way the snow falls—and that all of it is cool. I love taking a complex idea and breaking it into simple parts. I love that I can happily spend weeks untangling the best way to teach a thorny concept, teach it, revise it, and do it better next time. I love that sharing ideas with a colleague can feel both playful and intellectual. I love that I can get heart-thumpingly, passionately, energizingly mad about something because the education of children matters.
I love that learning and laughter go together. I love that I get to witness revelation. (How special to get to be present during so many “Ah Ha!” moments?) I love that I can walk into a class tired and frustrated and leave uplifted and energized. I love that so many things I love—reading, writing, talking, teaching and learning—have a place in my day. I love that I’m part entertainer, philosopher, poet, therapist, researcher, strategist, data processor, observer, participant and circus ringmaster. (I love that after writing that I want to both leap with exhilaration and droop with exhaustion.) I love that I feel surprise and joy every time a quiet student talks, a struggling student understands, or a resistant student laughs. I love that I get to push students to be their best selves. I love participating in the blueprint stage of life; nothing is set in stone, life looks long, and kids try on identities like new outfits.
I love that weight of enormous responsibility as I look out onto a class of students and realize that each one is someone’s precious baby and that all of those someones trust me to do the most important job I could imagine: to care for and educate their children.
Emma Kress, a teacher at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, has held a variety of educational posts at levels from pre-K to 12th grade. Send comments about this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.