The best thing happened to me today.
Like so good....I was literally brought to tears.
And obviously encouraged to blog all about it.
This summer I did what unfortunately a lot of teachers do, I picked up a summer job.
I'm fortunate enough to teach in a county that will be take my ten-month salary and spread it out through twelve-months so I still get a paycheck in the summer.
Which is a God send for "budgetly-challenged" folks like myself.
But having some extra cash has been so nice.
And almost a necessity after the past few months.
I got a job waiting tables and I actually really do enjoy it, all things considered.
It's so different than teaching, which is exactly what I need.
Plus I get to interact with a bunch of different people, which most of the time is pretty fun.
I worked the lunch shift today and admittedly was kind of dreading it.
When I say I enjoy waiting tables...I don't mean I love waiting tables.
But I had a table today, that completely altered my mood and has given me a whole new perspective on things.
There was a table close by with two kids, one of which was going into first grade.
I told him that I was a first grade teacher and that obviously first grade was the best grade.
We chatted about that a bit and then I moved on.
My other table had overheard the conversation and started talking to me about it.
Turns out the lady at the table was a former third grade teacher.
She had gotten out of the profession for the many reasons that so many others do.
Unrealistic standards and expectations.
Ridiculously low pay.
Very little to no respect.
Limited resources and support.
The list goes on and on.
We chatted about some of that but also talked about how admirable the profession is.
And talked about all the good that's in it...that not every one always sees. Teachers included.
When they left and I went to clear their table, I found my tip, which was extremely generous.
But I also found a note.
And the note is what meant more than anything else ever could.
"Thanks for what you do. Keep touching lives."
It was written on their credit card slip, so I couldn't save it.
But the words are ingrained in my heart.
Not because the words are all that profound, or even because they're words I've never heard before.
It was just something about seeing them today.
At my second job.
Two days before I start back at school.
It is so easy to get wrapped up in all the bullshit yep, I said it that comes with teaching and public education.
It's hard. It's not ever fair.
It's actually quite depressing 98% of the time.
When I graduated and started teaching, I just knew I'd stay in it forever.
Now, I admittedly take it year by year.
But there's a voice inside of me.
It's inside of every teacher.
It's not very loud and it gets drowned out a lot.
But it's saying "keep touching lives".
Because whether I see it or not, that's what I'm doing.
I knew going into teaching that I wouldn't make a lot of money.
Does that justify politicians continuing to stiff my pay? No, not at all.
Does the fact that I knew I wouldn't make a lot of money make it okay that I've got to get a second job to make ends meet? Definitely not.
But, it is what it is.
And that's what I was reminded of today.
Other people (who don't always know what they're talking about) can dictate my pay, can dictate what I teach, can dictate how I judge a student's success.
But they can't ever stop me from touching lives.
As a new school year arrives, much too quickly, I'm going to keep that voice loud and up front.
The one that's telling me I'm touching lives.
That's the perspective I want to focus on.
All the other stuff is going to be pushed to the side for now.
With all this being said, I completely understand why people leave teaching.
I know people, who are amazing teachers, who have left.
Not because they stopped listening to the voice inside of them.
But because they gained another voice. One telling them there's a better way for them to touch lives.
And I believe each one of them will.
That's the thing about teachers.
We're doing what we're doing because it's ingrained in us.
The outlet most of us choose to use is a school.
Until that one doesn't work for us anymore.
Then we find another outlet for all our good life-changing lessons and hot-glue craft projects.
One day, the rest of society will hopefully realize that.
I just hope the schools aren't empty of all the great teachers by then.
For all the teachers getting ready to start school,
and the ones that have already gone back (ack)
don't let others drown out the voice.
Keep touching lives.