I come from a long line of teachers. Both of my parents are currently teachers, at least part time, one of my grandmothers and both of my aunts were teachers until they retired and my family tree, on both sides, is littered with teachers of all varieties as far back as I can trace them.
Having so many teachers means I know what they go through. Listening to my mother talk about teaching middle school is akin to listening to grandfather talk about his days in World War II. It's a string of horror stories as she tries to weed through the unsafe environment, uncontrollable students and various occupational hazards in hopes of reaching the few kids that want to learn.
However, as a former student, I know exactly how much good teachers can do. Teachers can inspire students to do great things, to take charge of their lives, to reach for new heights and explore new worlds. Teachers, good teachers, can change lives and open minds and that's a position of power that few others in the world hold.
Indeed, when I look back at the teachers that changed my life, I notice, almost universally, that I learned almost nothing in their classes. Instead, they inspired me to learn for myself, to read books I never would have read, to explore ideas I never would have thought and to do things I never would have tried.
If it hadn't been for a journalism teacher, I never would have taken up writing. If it hadn't been for an English teacher, I never would have started writing poetry. If it hadn't been for a computer science teacher, I never would have studied HTML or graphic design. Finally, if it hadn't been for an English AP teacher in high school, I know I never would have had the courage to put all of the above together and form Raven's Rants. Never in a million years.
All of those teachers deserve as much credit for this site as I do. They dedicated their lives, earning meager pay and benefits, to fight through ungrateful students, hostile parents, restrictive legislation, a dangerous workplace and increasing overcrowding just to reach me and students like me. Though I have no idea why they faced such harsh realities to help me, I'm eternally grateful for it.
Of course, the truth is that I know exactly why they braved the Hell that is public education. It's the same reason I'm considering it now. Some people, for reasons unclear, have teaching in their blood. Perhaps it's hereditary, perhaps it's a personality disposition, but some people long for the connection, the presence and the job, as dirty as it is, and don't feel complete without it.
And that, as crazy as it sounds, is how I feel right now. Kept awake at night wondering if I should, perhaps, consider going back to the classroom, this time as a teacher. It's tempting, despite my harsh experience with high school the first time, the brutal nature of the job and the intense schooling required to quality, it still tempts me and calls me.
To me, it's like a dream made not of gold or jewels, but out of other dreams, dreams I helped inspire and make a reality. The thought of it makes me feel oddly complete, despite the hardships, and the mere mention of it is more than enough to send my mind down new and exciting trails.
But for the meantime, all I can do is tip my hat to the teachers of the world, not just those who inspired me, but to those inspiring students all across the four corners of the world.
To you, I say that you are truly the keepers of our future and that, even though others think you are crazy for withstanding all that you do, I understand. Perhaps someday I'll join your ranks, perhaps not. But either way, you have my eternal respect and gratitude.
For even though it's not much, especially for the burden you bear, it's all that I, or anyone else can offer.