It's always interesting the range of reactions you get when you tell people you're a MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER.
Sometimes you get the concerned look & sympathetic head tilt...
"wow..." they reply, shaking their head, as if you just revealed you had a rare disease.
Others raise their eyebrows in surprise, exclaiming:
"middle school, huh?! Whew...I don't know how you do it!"
(which I'm never quite sure is a statement of respect or condescension)
A few times I've been informed that I was brave (thank you?)
But, every so often, I get the reaction I appreciate most--
someone who seems genuinely interested in hearing more about the work I do.
Such was the case one night a few weeks back at a get-together my husband & I attended. A lovely couple we talked with seemed truly interested when, during our introductions & small talk, I mentioned I was as a teacher. The husband half of the pair confessed that he knew very little about the day-to-day challenges of the job, acknowledging that the assumptions he had about teaching were mostly based on what he's heard about/read in the media and the memory of the teachers he had during his own middle school years which, he admitted, were long ago. And, because they had no children of their own, he had no firsthand experience with public schools now days. He said, "I can tell you, the perception from an outsider's point of view is that you guys are really underpaid and highly stressed and the whole system's in a lot of trouble...is that the truth?"
I paused for a minute, chewing on what he had said. Not that I hadn't heard this sort of thing before, that was just a big ol' question and I'm simply not that quick on my feet. "Well, the short answer is...I don't know. I don't know if that's the truth--I suppose just like anything else it's all about perception. I just know my truth, my experience of it."
He chuckled, "Fair enough. So what is your experience of it, do you love what you do?"
The following is my loaded answer to his loaded question: to be honest, a combination of things I actually said and things I wish I had said in confessing MY truth about teaching (not that I purposely held anything back...I told you, I'm just not that quick on my feet. I become witty after the fact, when I'm in my pj's that night still thinking of things I should have said...which I guess means I'm not witty at all).
I told him...
I also told him about some of the lessons I'd learned over the years, like...
And I'm pretty sure after all that he offered me a drink.