To Be or Not To Be (A Teacher) — That is the Question.

In the last few years, my incessant article reading has led me to many-a-headline revolving around teachers leaving the classroom and warning others to steer clear of the profession.

Yes, the hours are long. Yes, the work is hard. Yes, the pay is poor. Regardless of these things, I will hold fast and firm in encouraging YOU, undecided-career friend, to consider teaching.

I’ve always thought of myself as a hard worker, but y’all, I’ve never worked harder than these last three years of my life. I’m lesson planning, adapting activities throughout the day based on my students, and through it all constantly trying to be better. There are late nights at home grading papers, or at school prepping the next day’s science demonstration. There are conferences and meetings that devour time after school, as well as the completion of state-mandated tests within the limited time frame of school hours.

But, there are also moments of brilliant triumph — the moments you work so hard to see. A “far below proficient” child makes a year and a half’s worth of growth in four months, showing up as green on your mCLASS list finally. A defiant child opens up to you when she realizes you truly care. A parent thanks you for all your hard work with her child with some fresh tamales. These moments bring a very special kind of joy that warms the heart and often brings tears to the eyes. These moments fulfill you and sustain you and push you to be the best for those kids, as you expect their best in return. This is more than just a job; it’s a relationship you cultivate with children and their families to prepare them for their futures.

Friends, there is a difference to be made. This is a labor of love if there ever was one. You pour your heart and soul into this, yet the reward you get is far greater. This is not for the faint of heart, and this is not a “get rich quick” career.

Well, you will be rich, just without the dollar signs.

I write you this out of honesty and heartbreak. As a public school teacher in North Carolina, I am saddened to know that the average enrollment in education programs in the UNC System is -22.8%.

I know it isn’t glamorous and I know it’s under-appreciated in our society today. I also know it probably doesn’t sound too appealing, but y’all, it’s time to change that conversation.

Exciting things are happening in education. Moves are being made. Networks are expanding. Communication lines are opening.

If you fear lack of support, hop on Twitter and find an education chat (there’s one for everything, trust me). If you fear lack of professional development, find an EdCamp near you (you should know this is free AND effective). And when you ever have questions, never be afraid to ask.

This is collaborative. This is a constant challenge. This is worth the fight.

So please, my friends — consider teaching.

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