It’s a question I sometimes find myself asking after a particularly draining day. Why do I do this? Why do we run ourselves ragged? People say they “appreciate” all that we do, but you can’t appreciate something you have no concept of. I appreciate their appreciation but it’s a bit lost on me some days. It’s all I can do not to just throw my hands up in the air and in my best Jennifer Aniston voice shriek, “I QUIT!”. I want to take off my apron and give it to Gunther. {Friends episode…sorry if you don’t get the reference}.

I have read and heard complaint after complaint of overcrowded classrooms, new observation requirements, no support, outlandish student behavior, and unreasonable expectations from parents and administrators. They are all warranted problems and I do feel like the education system as a whole is failing. I don’t want to focus on the negative because that does nothing for me or for you.

I have to make a mental list in my head of why I do this. The positive things. I go back and think of being five. My parents bought me a real chalkboard for Christmas and my Dad even mounted it to the wall like a real classroom!

I’m not talking easel size.

Real life size.

That was an excitement that I can still remember to this day. I would sit and and play school all day long. My baby dolls and stuffed animals were my students. Sometimes my sister would even pop in until I deemed her a disruption and sent her to dention {aka…the living room}. My Gran worked the front office in the inner city schools and when they got new furniture, she inherited some of the old desks and chairs. She brought them home and created a classroom in her basement for me.There is no telling how many countless hours I spent in that basement. My sweet Gran would sit in those tiny chairs and play school with me. I think that’s why I love her more than anyone else in the world.

I tell you all of this because I have to remember that I was called to do this. Teaching is not a job, it’s a calling. Emily, another K teacher and one of ย my best friends, told me that and it has always stuck with me. I was called to be a teacher. It’s not a job. In college, I was confused when people didn’t know their major. I thought everyone knew. I learned quickly, I was the exception to that. Nobody knows…

This is why I do it:

  1. Lightbulb moments- When you feel like you actually see the lightbulb and you can almost grab it.
  2. When they call me “Mommy”.
  3. 20 five and six year olds erupting in laughter.
  4. It is ridiculously fun.
  5. ย Scholastic Points…seriously. I love free books.
  6. Their face when they read for the first time.
  7. The college professor who looked me in the eye and told me I was going to be an amazing teacher.
  8. My team. I am beyond blessed to be a part of it.
  9. There is a surprise every day. Enough said there.
  10. The grandmother of student that walked in this morning and told me how lucky her grandson was to be in my class.

I’m sure if I thought long and hard there would be more reasons. I find myself getting so frustratedย and perplexed at times that I forget why I’m here. I’m doing what I’m doing because I’m supposed to.

Because I was made to do this.

I know all teachers ask themselves (at some point)…WHAT am I doing?! Nobody warned me about this. It’s because if we told you, you might change your mind. Make a decision to be the best teacher you are supposed to be in whatever situation you might be facing this year. What is your list? If you don’t have one, then maybe you should reconsider what you’re doing. Teaching is not for the faint of heart. It is for the person who is so full of heart they can’t be shaken.

I wrote with these women in mind. All of them are amazing women that are equally as wonderful teachers. Actually, Kindergarten teachers…which you all know is another level. I am blessed to be surronded by their knowledge and love for what they do every day.

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  1. You said it! It’s rough this year! It’s nice to see a blog say the truth though.
    How is your MIL? I came from the Nov. Currently, and I skipped ahead to see an update. ๐Ÿ™‚ Em

  2. Emily West says:

    Love this! I appreciated you when Lulu had you for kindergarten. I saw her face light up when she would talk about school and I loved watching her learn to read through your guidance. You’re one of the best and we are so blessed to have had you.

  3. You do it because you care! One of my students ran up to me before school this morning with a huge smile on his face and gave me a picture of a flower that he drew for me. It made me stop and just think. We are a very important part of these kids’ lives, and that’s why we do it!!

    • I keep all of the pictures they draw me. Each year I fill a shoebox with everything from that year. I know it’s probably silly and after 10 years it will be a much larger pile than it is now. I know they are so proud of themselves and I just can’t throw them out!

  4. Love your post, Elizabeth! I so agree that teaching is not just a job … it is definitely a calling. Just yesterday a young man 2 feet taller than me … a student from last year … stopped by my classroom to give me a hug and ask how I was doing. It so made my day. Sometimes it is not so much the content we teach although that’s important but it is the relationships we build with our young students!

    Your kindergartners are so blessed to call you teacher!

    • I am a better teacher because you were such an amazing principal to all of us. We miss you more than you know! Your highschoolers are so very lucky to have you as a teacher. Miss and love you!

  5. Heather says:

    Elizabeth, I couldn’t agree more. Anytime I get the response “You taught high school?!… Are you crazy?” Or “How could you deal with teenagers every day?” I tell them it’s exactly what God created me to do! Recognizing that fact is what makes good teachers GREAT! … You are obviously at the GREAT level! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Lyndsay O. Ficklin says:

    Elizabeth- I love this post because it’s honest and true! I am going to share this with my 2nd grade team ( who I am blessed to have). This is my 3rd year teaching, but might be my last due to it stressful, draining, and crazy requirements we have of content to fit in 1day! And in the county where I teach the focus is “scores” and “testing” instead of the KIDS! But to end on a upbeat note here is my Top 10.
    1. I LOVE the school, teachers, and staff.
    2. My principal says, ” Our school is the best place these kids are all day.” which is true for most.
    3. I call my kids at school ” my kids” and I mean that!
    4. My classroom is pretty cool, if I do say so myself!
    5. I love when my kids give me hugs, pictures they’ve made and lil treasures they want me to have.
    6. I like seeing my kids work hard and it pay off in their math, spelling, reading, etc.
    7. I love watching them interact and play at recess.
    8. In 2nd they are at a great age to still love you, but work independently (at times).
    9. Scholastic Book points, fairs, and warehouse sales are pretty amazing.
    10. Teachers Pay Teacher & Pintrest & Kickin It in Kindergarten not sure what I’d do without them! ๐Ÿ˜‰ lol

    • I love your list! Even though your district doesn’t seem to be kid-focused, I know that you are. Just remember the impact you are having on those kids each and every day. That matters so much more than test scores. You are probably the one light they have. I know you are a fabulous teacher because of your fun and spunky personailty <3

  7. OH my boys love you so much! You are definitely called and gifted ๐Ÿ™‚ And so blessed to know at such a young age that you were made for it ๐Ÿ™‚ I teach my two and can only do so because I’m so driven to know how to teach them so they will learn… i can’t imagine having the gift or calling of teaching 20 that aren’t mine. Homeschool has given me even more respect for the amazing teachers out there! LIKE YOU!

  8. I love this post! I haven’t been able to read all my favorite teacher blogs since I started grad school a year ago, but I saw Kindergarten Smorgasboard shared your post on facebook and I’m glad I read it! I agree with you! As I was sitting eatin lunch in the cafeteria yesterday during my school’s staff development… I looked around and noticed how we were all laughing and smiling. I feel so blessed to be part of a school where we are happy and work together. It’s so rare and I will miss it when I leave or it goes away. I agree that teaching is a “calling”. Our principal tells us all the time “This is your mission work.” We are teaching our future doctors, lawyers, teachers, presidents and maybe one of the people who will find a cure to cancer. It’s so amazing to know how we can impact the lives of children for the better! WONDERFUL POST! =)
    Jessica

  9. Marion McIntyre says:

    My sister reminisced about playing schools when we were kids. I had a blackboard any I was the teacher. Apparently I brought a duster home from school as we needed one. I have only ever had one job which I went into after teachers college. We talked about retiring and I am reluctant to give up my contact with my students. I am lucky enough to specialize in my favourite subjects and spend time in the PrePrimary. I love my job. I think they will have to kick me out.

  10. Merideth Cary says:

    I am a first year teacher, and I teach kindergarten. I certainly feel the frustration to perform my best with a classroom of 5 and 6 year olds. I often make the joke that teaching kindergarten is much like teaching a group of cats. The rarely listen and can’t sit still, haha. (It is most definitely in a joking manner.) Nothing is better than feeling defeated at the end of the week and reviewing my students station work for the week and seeing how much was done correctly, and all the new things they learned! Every word from your post is something I would have written myself. Teaching is my passion and I hope to one day be the best kindergarten teacher ever!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Haha…it can for sure feel like that sometimes. You will feel so much more confident after your first year. There may be some tears involoved (or maybe that was just me?!), but it’s worth it ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Wow! AMAZING blog post! Can I re-post it on my blog and use you as a guest blogger?? Seriously, girl. Brought me to tears. I’ve had two incredibly challenging weeks… and I needed this. Thanks for your inspiration!

  12. Tracy Rivet says:

    I had one of those moments that remind me of why I teach just this week. Last Friday, I took the day off just because I really needed a break….not from the kids but from the stress. On Monday, I had a student tell me that on a scale of 1-10, his day was a 10 because I was back, and he had missed me on Friday. I mean….in what other career do you get that kind of positive feedback!

  13. Shari Copeland says:

    Our school is in year 2 of Program Improvement. Our district is implementing common core this year (without curriculum to support it). I have 28 students; 21 of which are second language learners level 1 and 2. Life is not easy. But I still LOVE my job. Every reason you listed is a reason that would be on my list as well. It is truly a calling. Thank you for reminding me. Your post was beautifully written. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I loved your comment! It’s great to hear from like-minded teachers! Keep up the good work! So glad to have found your blog!

  15. THanks for posting! I was so in need of this post. I am facing some challenges this year and this is my 19th year of teaching! I loved your list! Many of my “whys” are on there also. I need to print it to remind me why I do this. Thanks sooooo much!!

  16. From one Elizabeth to another, this is such an honest heartwarming post. I’ve had a rough start this year and have been feeling much the same way. I have to keep reminding myself of these very things. It means a lot to know we aren’t alone in our classrooms!

  17. Elizabeth, you are a girl after my own heart! Love everything about this post. I truly love teaching kindergarten and can’t ever see myself doing anything else. Thanks for such an inspiring post!

    XO,
    Amanda

  18. Perfection ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been wrestling with why I do this a lot lately… This list reminds me of why! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks girl, and I really hope I get to join the blogger meet up in December! ๐Ÿ™‚