What it means to be a teacher

teacher in a classroomAn engineer wants his child to become an engineer, while a doctor would like to see his child study medicine. A businessman wants his child to become a CEO, while most teachers would like their children to follow in their footsteps but are not sure whether they will be able to support a family on their salaries. I say this because I am a teacher and know what a difference a good teacher can make to the life of a child.

Dinner guests sitting around the dining room table were discussing life and professions. A CEO said; ‘What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decides that his best option in life is to become a teacher?’ To stress his point, he turned to me saying; ‘You’re a teacher. Be honest and tell us how much money you take home every month.’  Now I have a reputation for honesty and would never tell even a white lie in my husband’s company, so I paused for a second and then continued without giving him a direct reply. ‘I make students work harder than they ever thought they could. I try to make a weak student feel like a winner. I get my students to sit through 45 minutes of class while their parents are unable to get them to sit still for even 5 minutes without an iPod, an iPad, an iPhone, a computer or a tv in front of them. And you want to know how much I make?’ I looked at every guest sitting around that table then said rather too loudly, I think. ‘I make children wonder. I make them question. I make them apologize and mean it. I teach them to have respect and to take responsibility for their actions. I teach them how to write and then I get them to write. Typing on a keyboard isn’t everything. I make them read and read and read even more. It teaches them to use their brains instead of using calculators. When I teach ESL (English as a second language) I teach them what they need to know about the English language while preserving their unique cultural identities. My classroom is a place where all my students feel safe. And finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard and follow their hearts, they will succeed in life.’ I paused, quite out of breath then said; ‘When people judge me by how much money I make a month, I hold my head up high and pay no attention because I feel sort of insulted because I don’t think you have any idea what it means to be a dedicated teacher. I make a difference to your lives by educating your children and preparing them to become CEO’S, doctors and engineers.’

‘Now tell us what do you make a month, Mr. CEO,‘ I said. His jaw dropped and he remained silent.


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