I remember. I was proud to be a teacher. Broke, but proud. Didn't make enough to pay the bills, pay my student loan, and keep the fridge full, but that was okay. I was shaping the minds of young America. I loved my kids and I loved teaching. The lack of pay didn't matter. I paid my bills and made due with what I had. It didn't embarrass me that my mom dropped off that half gallon of milk that she bought thinking they were out. Or the loaf of bread and some lunch meat that she just happened to have. You know. Laying around the house. No one to eat it before it spoiled. I knew better. I didn't fall for her stories. But, I never let her know. I thanked her and was grateful.
I can't say that it was as much pride as it was noble. That's it. Being a teacher was a noble profession. And, I took to it like a duck takes to water. We were even doing STEM and STEAM and project based learning before they became a 'thing'. We did them, not because it was the current trend, but because that was the best way to teach our kids. We didn't know about 'best practices' or any other nonsense. We didn't care about anything except teaching our kids.
And loving them. But that was back in the day. Before sick people took the word love too far and tainted it for everybody. We listened and we cared and our kids knew it. They knew because we set boundaries. Had expectations. Our 'threats' weren't empty promises. There was a next time. Consequences fit the crime. They taught responsibility and accountability. Two more words that have fallen into disgrace.
I miss those days. I miss the learning that took place and the respect kids showed to their elders. I miss the cooperative learning and teaching with my colleagues. I miss the peace of a structured classroom where skills were multiplying by the minute.
I don't miss wearing heels and working 72+ hours a week. Or home visits. Or meetings about everything and nothing. I don't miss the break down of a system that worked.
(For more of Kim Frencken's writing and information about her educational products, check out her blog, Chocolate For the Teacher.)