Over end-of-term drinks, our principal quite rightly related an anecdote all teachers can relate to. It's the response one gets from people when you answer their "so what do you do?" question. They always say:
"oh, that must be SO rewarding!"
We can tell you now, categorically, that many, many, many days it is not. When you are constantly fighting with rude obnoxious teenagers who don't care how much they ignore or upset you... "rewarding" is not the word that comes to mind. This ain't gardening you know, despite what all those cheesy motivational posters might say.
There are many reasons to dislike my job. I would, however, like to describe one big reason why I LOVE my job.
I ADORE my job because of the extra layers of humanity it has revealed to me in people so very different to me. Whether these revelations are indicative of an unhealthy mindset I have/had or what not, I have yet to figure out. But this much I know: I don't see car guards or wire-flower sellers any more. I don't see domestic workers or taxi drivers. I don't see security guards or Checkers bag packers or trolley pushers or garbage men.
I now can't help but see the fathers and mothers of my children. These are the parents of my students: the ones who I call to help me when their teen is being a brat. The ones who come to talk with me about their child and we smile and greet and share tea. The ones like Bongi who, on seeing a class being rude to me, stormed in as the angry matriarch she is and put the students in their place pronto quick. Like Clive, who always asks how I am before we start talking about how to make sure his son comes to school. Like Angel, who always supports my corrective measures towards either of her sons and calls me 'her child' and invites me into her home.
Thank you, my heart-breaking-exhausting-soul-dessicating job for these friends and these insights. My life is richer for the connection and the personhood I can now see and feel in these strangers I encounter every day.