Oh, this cough is…

Oh, this cough is killing me. I have one packet left, and I've been working on this poor student forever. I'm just so tired that I have to keep taking breaks and lying down for a while so my brain and body can wake up again. I thought I'd be done by six, and oh, it's not six, or seven, or eight, and I've been doing this all day.

And yet, I'm loving it. I love teaching. And I'm actually liking teaching more and more, the more I do it. I think it's because as time goes on, I know more, and so I have more confidence that I actually do know things that are worth teaching. That I can pass along some helpful stuff that I picked up along the way, from books or experience or other teachers. That I can help make someone else's journey a bit swifter, if nothing else.

You know one of the best-kept secrets of teaching? It doesn't matter how bright or talented your students are. It really doesn't. When I first started teaching, like many new teachers, I wanted to work with the brightest kids, because I thought they would be more fun. And I've had bright students in my classes, and conversations with them can be a lot of fun, but that's not really where the joy of teaching lies.

It lies in that aha! moment, the moment when you can tell by the light in a student's eyes that they've finally gotten something that's been driving them crazy for weeks or months or years. Maybe she's a college student who has just realized that Hamlet wasn't just indecisive. Maybe he's a creative writer who discovered that the second person is actually not a scary point of view at all and is in fact the perfect one for telling his story. Maybe she's a five-year-old who has finally, after much grief and frustration, learned to tie her very own shoe.

Knowing you helped with that -- it's one of the best feelings ever. It pays for many homework assignments not read, for distracted students answering their cell phones in class, for confrontational students coming to your office hours and demanding an A instead of that A- you gave them and which was actually a little kinder than their work deserved. It pays for everything.

You may have to remind me of that, halfway through the semester. :-)

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