"There are three kinds of teachers: Those who teach because they actively want to, those who teach because they like long summer vacations, and those who teach because they don't quite fit into the adult world."*
I wish it were that simple, and I wish I didn't identify with all three types.
There is a funny thing about teaching: Everybody seems to have an opinion on it, especially the everybodys who have never set foot in a classroom. I've seen no other profession more highly esteemed, and more ruthlessly mocked, than teaching. Especially public school teaching.
Consider every teacher in every movie or TV show you've ever seen. Movie/TV teachers fall into two categories: Messiah or Scum. John Keating (Dead Poets Society) or Ben Stein as the Economics teacher. (Bueller? Bueller?)
Freedom Writers or Clueless
Sure, the Messiah teachers start out rough. Someone plays a prank on them, or in the case of Mona Lisa Smile, already know all the answers. But fear not, by the end of the movie, the teacher has each and every student eating out of his or her hand. All in 90 minutes. If Julia Roberts can do it, what is wrong with you, Mr. Hall? (Hint: As if!)
And like Olympic Gymnastics, movie teachers make it look so easy.
Here's the truth: I actively want to be a teacher. I actively pursued being a teacher since I was 18, with a ferocity unusual for a regular person, let alone a person with "attention difficulties." I never changed my major, I never doubted. I actively want to be a teacher, except on the days I don't. Except on the days where I seriously contemplate getting "accidentally" pregnant so I have a socially acceptable reason to quit. I actively try to develop meaningful lessons, except on the day, when faced with a 62% failure rate, and three suspended students, I simply open the textbook and force my students to read. Silently. For an hour. I feel like I make a difference to my students, until they spend 30 minutes debating whether it's a zit or a hickey on my neck. **
I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I love summer vacation.
I'd be lying if I told you I didn't find solace in my profession. Yes, solace from dealing with other adults, who are much more complex than teens. (Mostly because adults still act like teens, but pretend they don't.) There is a solace in shutting the door to your classroom, and knowing that for the next 87 minutes, you are the (hopefully benevolent) God of your own tiny world.
There is also a sense of terror when you realize that it is you, the 23 year old adult against 37 teens.
But none of that fits into 90 minutes, or 3 categories. Or in a three line quote. I can't hope for students who stand dramatically on their desks, calling out Oh Captain! My Captain! in an act of cinematic loyalty. All I can hope for is that they learn something. And don't accuse me of selling drugs. ***
*Quote and not-necessarily related article found HERE
**Actually, I do think there is one movie that accurately depicts what is like to be a teacher, and you're going to scoff when I tell you. It's Mean Girls. The scene where Tina Fey spills coffee all over herself, insults a minority student accidentally, but still manages to encourage girls to do math? Substitute coffee for diet coke, and girls with boys and math with poetry, and I've almost successfully fulfilled my fantasy of BEING Tina Fey.