More Reasons to #LoveTeaching

I have a confession to make. I was a little bit afraid to write this blog for #LoveTeaching week because I didn’t want to be accused of “toxic positivity”. It seems like social media is overwhelmed with stories of teachers who are quitting the profession. I get it. Teaching has changed, teachers are being attacked (literally and figuratively), and education in general is taking a hit. So this is not an article about any of those things that are happening in the teaching profession. This is an article about why teaching is still one of the greatest professions, and why I feel blessed every day to be a small part of it.

Let’s start with professional development. (I bet you didn’t see that one coming!) Yes, I said it, professional development. I have been lucky enough to take part in some amazing (and free!) professional development sessions around the United States. I have literally traveled from the East Coast  to the West Coast of the United States attending professional development training. So I not only have the benefit of great professional development, I also am able to travel. I have applied for scholarships and grants to attend these training sessions, so I paid very little (if any) money out of my own pocket.

There are so many opportunities out there if you are willing to look.

One of my favorites is the Space Exploration Educator Conference in Houston, Texas. NASA also has some amazing professional development webinars. Most of them last an hour, and they are free! Ford’s Theater is offering both online and in-person summer institutes entitled “Civil War Washington''. The United States Patent and Trade Office also presents a National Summer Institute on Innovation, STEM, and Intellectual Property.  It seems like once you sign up for one workshop, other opportunities come your way. Taking advantage of these opportunities has allowed me to form friendships with fellow educators across the country. One advantage of social media is that I am able to stay connected with these teacher friends, and we can share lessons and ideas with each other.

Speaking of teacher friends, teachers are everywhere! If you are a teacher it’s almost like admission into the “cool kids” group at any social activity. Teachers are going to be the loudest people in the room, the ones having the most fun. Random conversation on a plane ride..mention you are a teacher and see how people open up. Anxious to meet the girlfriend’s family? Tell them you’re a teacher, and they will love you! Are you feeling awkward at a social gathering? Casually mention you are a teacher, and I can  guarantee you will meet another teacher at the same gathering.  I was recently on a college visit with my son, and I mentioned I am a teacher. Someone else in our group was an assistant principal. Even though we were at different schools in different states, we felt an immediate camaraderie. When you know, you know.

As a teacher with 3 children of my own, I can say that teaching can be great for family life. Before the pandemic, I was one of few people who could say I have taught my own children. While teaching my own kids did  present some challenges, the rewards far outweighed the struggles. Not only did I teach my own kids, I also taught their friends. How cool is that? Also, my kids and I have the same schedule for the most part. We have the same holidays off, and we get to enjoy snow days together. We go to the same music concerts, sporting events, and academic competitions. We are equally as nervous for the first day of school and excited for the last day of school. We have the same summer break (for the most part). We even get to go “back to school” shopping together and buy some of the same supplies.

And, finally, the real reason we all #LoveTeaching..the students.

Every school year I am blessed with a new group of “learner colleagues”. Together we get to travel back in time, experiment with Newton’s laws, discover mathematical relationships, read new books, and more. We genuinely become a family in our classrooms. A family who supports each other, encourages one another, and plays games together. We laugh together every day, and sometimes we cry together because life is hard. In what other profession do people you work with every day want to sincerely know what you did over the weekend? If you are in the corporate world, and you run into a colleague in the store, do they holler your name across the store? I can guarantee that has happened to a teacher. If you are having a bad day at home, and you go to work, do your colleagues make your day better? I guarantee that happens to a teacher.

So, let’s enter #LoveTeaching week, not with “toxic positivity”, but with a genuine love and respect for our profession. Yes, it’s been hard. Yes, we are tired. And, yes, the work is worth it.

Denise Henggeler has been teaching 4th grade at Northeast Nodaway for 25 years; however, she has never taught the same lesson twice. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood/Elementary Education and her Master’s of Science in Middle School Education from Northwest Missouri State University.She  loves being part of a district so small that the preschool through twelfth grade is housed in one building. Denise was named a 2020 Missouri Teacher of the Year Finalist, and she encourages students and colleagues alike to “Dare Mighty Things”! You can follow Denise on Twitter at @NEN4thgrade.



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