Some days I have a great urge to come home, have a relaxing shower, sit down with a large glass of wine and think of anything but work.
It is in these moments when I have been so rocked by a lesson gone bad, a student’s rude remarks or a difficult conversation with a parent that I feel the strain of having such an emotional job.
It is on these days, driving home exhausted and demoralised that I can simultaneously resent the personal and emotional nature of the job and yet feel privileged to be so invested in my work that I cannot leave the disappointments at the door.
It is during these weeks that I have to remind myself of the things gone well. On the same day that my senior students showed no respect for me or my lesson plan, a father sincerely thanked me over the phone for my care and concern for his daughter.
On the same day that hundreds of students seemed to push past me through the door way rather than wait, a student offered to carry my materials to a classroom because I looked like I was struggling.
On the same day that session 6 was completely dull and getting my Philosophy students to complete the comprehension questions was like pulling teeth, in session 1 my Italian students were literally leaping out of their chairs to check what the multiple choice options on the whiteboard were so they could enter the answer into their computers.
They say in teaching that no day is the same as the next or the one before. But it’s actually that no lesson is the same as the next. It is the unpredictable nature of our job that makes it both eternally interesting and almost always anxiety inducing.
A student began to cough violently in one of my classes recently and as I asked him if he was OK, his face starting to go red, I thought to myself, “Yep, my time is up, today is the day I will have a minor medical incident in my class”. The student was fine within a few seconds. However, my internal reaction to the occurrence evidences how I am almost constantly in a state of anticipation for something to go wrong, an accident to occur or a student to decide to singlehandedly derail my class. We walk straight into unpredictability every time that bell goes.
In teaching we shouldn’t say “all’s well that ends well”. Really it should be, “all’s well that somewhere amongst the stress, emotional strain and battles lost, you had a win”.