Ben Kissam is a writer, standup comedian, coach, and former middle school teacher. His blog, coachk.co, offers satirical advice for self-improvement and achievement.
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This one goes out to all those teachers with friends who, despite your persistent efforts, can't quite grasp what it's like to live the teacher life or understand our teacher problems.
Instead of detailing how difficult teaching can be, maybe it's better to show them just how little it takes to make us happy. Sure, we get summers off (at least we can pretend we do), but there's a lot more to it.
Further reading: 5 Reasons to Love Teaching
Here are six simple teacher victories that make us celebrate.
"Use your notes from page eight to answer the guided response. Any questions, class?"
In disbelief, you watch as the whole class opens their books to page eight and starts working.
This teacher moment is akin to when you set up the last domino in a row of one hundred. You slowly pull your fingers away, fearful that the slightest disturbance will ruin what you've just done.
Then it sinks in. You realize you've actually pulled it off, and boy, does it feel good.
Sometimes the school year feels like you're spending 182 days living on a raft in the middle of the ocean. Part of teaching is learning to expect or even anticipate the waves.
The beginning of each school year is often when teachers get hit with the biggest waves. For example, your boss details the new district-wide policy for teacher evaluations—a week before classes start. Every teacher thinks to themselves, "Oh, sure thing, boss. Seven days is plenty of time!"
The Math is Simple: Just $6,380 a term for your teaching degree!
But sometimes you get through that first week back and nothing happens. In fact, you're totally clear on expectations. Best of all, you don't have to memorize any new district-assigned acronyms.
Now that's worth celebrating.
"You're absolutely right. I will talk to him about it tonight."
Oh, how we long to read those words in a parent email. Sadly, many parents trust their teacher's judgment of their son or daughter about as much as they trust gas station sushi.
Is it weird that you get an urge to hug your computer when you speak with a parent that just gets it? Asking for a friend.
Either way, this situation merits celebration.
Let's admit it. Every teacher has that one student—we'll call him Tommy—who causes frustration. Tommy's toolbox is full of ways to get under your skin. Of Tommy's many talents, his ability to fall asleep during lessons tops your list.
You're teaching a lesson about the Civil War, and Tommy has his arms folded and his head on his desk. You take a mental note, assume you'll have to bring him up to speed later, and return to teaching.
Suddenly, a voice chimes in. You're surprised (and nervous) to realize the voice is Tommy's.
"So you're saying if we hadn't won Gettysburg, the country would be completely different?"
Stunned, you whisper, "Th...that's right, Tommy. Good job!"
As his head returns to the desk, you high-five yourself internally.
Sure, we get sick days just like other professionals, but missing school as a teacher is nothing like playing hooky. In fact, depending on where we are in a unit, it might be better for us to just go to school sick.
So when winter passes and you realize you've only had one (or two) colds this season, it's time for a teacher celebration. It may seem like a lot, but considering a school is a lot like a large-scale petri dish, two colds is nothing.
You have to celebrate moments of growth as a teacher. Sometimes, that's in the form of your own self-control.
Say a kid throws up, there's a fight, or someone blatantly curses. You never really know what's going to happen next, even when you know something will. The class loses their mind—laughter, tears, whatever.
Further reading: 3 Student Success Stories to Reaffirm Your Love of Teaching
But you? You stay cool as a cucumber. You don't get frustrated at all. Your yoga instructor, if you had one, would be proud.
It's little teacher victories like these that we have to celebrate. We learn over the years that if we don't celebrate the little things, no one else will.