This past Wednesday was Take Our Kids to Work day, and I was the guy in charge of the whole shebang at my office. This meant a lot of busy days and culminated in the most exhausting day of my working year.
For those who aren’t aware of this special event, TOKTW day gives grade 9 students the chance to go to work with a parent, family member or friend for a day to catch a glimpse of the working world. It’s supposed to be their opportunity to learn about potential careers so they can tailor their high school course-load to the attainment of that role.
I sort of like TOKTW day. For a brief time in high school, I was convinced I was going to be a P.E. teacher. In grade 11, I did a co-op term as a P.E. teacher at the elementary school which I attended as a child, and I thought it was a lot of fun. I suppose I was pretty good at it; I led the boys basketball team to a tournament win in the process.
Side note regarding that basketball tournament — in the finals of the tourney, I was so intent on winning that I chose to play certain players for the majority of the game and have others sit on the bench for the whole game. This is one of my biggest regrets in life.
In the end, I let my love of writing dictate my career choice. But I still wonder what life would have been like had a chosen to be a teacher. And so, every year when TOKTW day comes along, I have the chance to fulfill that dream, at least for a day.
What usually happens is this.
- As the day approaches, I look forward to the possibilities. I wonder if the kids will enjoy the activities planned and work hard to make the day fun and entertaining.
- When the day arrives, I have a lot of fun in the moment, but when 2pm comes and the students return to their parents, I breathe a heaving sigh of relief and wonder if any of them actually enjoyed themselves.
- Then, when their feedback comes, I realize things went pretty well and I look forward to the next year’s crop of youngin’s.
On my way home Wednesday night, three thoughts crossed my mind.
- Did my teachers see me as an awkward, hormonal teen too?
- What will Pea be like at that age? Will she be the extroverted girl who easily makes friends, or the shy girl who is overwhelmed by the whole experience of being a teen?
- Teaching is extremely hard work and our teachers don’t get nearly the credit they deserve for pulling kids out of their shells, day after day, to teach them essential life skills and messages.
As parents, we are all teachers. I understand this well, but I also understand that it just isn’t the same as being a real teacher. As parents, we have the advantage of being able to grow with our kids, to learn their habits and preferences over the course of a lifetime. Teachers have but a few weeks to make these distinctions and tailor their approach to ensure the proper development of a kid.
So, the whole purpose of this post (as the title would suggest) is to salute the teachers out there for the tough work you do. It is hard, often thankless and undervalued work and you deserve far more than what you currently get for your efforts.
I know a few UrbanMoms bloggers — Mom Without a Map’s Sarah and Multiple Musing’s Erin, maybe more – are teachers… so the next time I see you ladies, there just might be a hug coming your way.
PS – the teaching debate seems to be raging hard on UrbanMoms these days. Check out Erin’s posts on unschooling, for example. Very interesting topic.