September 3, 2015
Two interactions over the past couple of days that remind me why we're in the business of teaching:
1. I introduced my College/Career Exploration Project in my senior classes. They have to choose three institutions they might be interested in attending, and then look at aspects which might be decision-making factors for them: whether or not their intended major/focus is offered, location, cost, etc. I tell them they can look at JCs, private colleges, UCs, military branches, CSUs, technical/trade schools, etc. I had a kid come up to me after class to say he had no idea what the difference what among all of those things. He didn't know what a JC was, had no idea what UC stands for. He was thinking he'd just keep his same job that he has now for as long as he can. His boss makes a lot of money owning his own business, and he drives really nice cars. I told him he's exactly the kid the project is designed for--to find out all the options he has. I don't care if he chooses not to go to college, but I don't want him to not go just because he has no idea what his other options are. He's going to research his current job to see what kind of salary and benefits he could earn as a full-time employee, and what growth opportunities there are, as well as other factors that might make it beneficial to stay in that job, such as flexible scheduling or vacation time. He's also going to look at a junior college (which I explained to him), as well as a four year college with an emphasis in Business. Whatever decision he ultimately makes, it will be with a little more understanding of all of his choices.
2. I have an independent reading requirement in my classes. I tell students that if they consider themselves non-readers, they just haven't met the right book that speaks to them yet. So one of my students approached me and said he had never ever been interested in reading and wanted to know what I could suggest for him. I asked him what his interests and past times were: sports, biographies, history, documentaries. So clearly we have a non-fiction kind of kid on our hands. I went to my classroom library and pulled out 8 or 9 books that I thought might fit the bill and put them on his desk to peruse. I was hoping one of them might pique his interest, but if not I'd dig around a little at home for more. After about fifteen minutes we approached me again with five of the books in his hands. He asked, "How do I check these out? I didn't like the other ones, but all of these seem really interesting to me." Typically, students only check out one at a time, but I was so excited that my 'non-reader' had found a few he wanted to at least try out that I didn't want to discourage him and showed him the process for checking out books from my library. At the end of class, he approached me again and said, "I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate taking the time to talk to me and help me find a book. No teacher has ever done that for me before. I can tell you are really there for your students, and I am really excited about being in this class with you for senior year."
I mean forget the paycheck (metaphorically, people--let's not get carried away)--THIS is real teacher's pay.