My students and co-workers probably get tired of hearing me say it year after year. But I mean every word of it: I am the luckiest teacher I know. Most days there is nowhere in the world where I would rather be than in my classroom with my students, teaching a subject that I revere, on a campus where I have spent my entire career surrounded by extraordinary friends and administrators who support my teaching efforts. I find deep meaning in the life of being a teacher. In truth, I get a little antsy by the end of the summer. I’m ready to get back to my platform, my stage, and my playing field all rolled into one. However, not everyone feels this way. Here is a fun and easy test to find out if you are a “lucky” teacher.
For every “yes” give yourself one point.
Do you look forward to going to work most days? The key word is “most.” Not every lucky teacher loves their job every day. There are always bad days. But if you enjoy going to work most of the days of your career then you are lucky indeed. Give yourself a point.
Do you enjoy the subject/grade level you teach? One of the most frequent complaints from new teachers is they are not teaching the subject or grade level they went into teaching to teach. For those of us who teach our passion nothing is better.
Do you feel like you are making a difference to others? Being a part of the process of human growth is addictive and fulfilling like nothing else in life. Feeling like anybody could be doing what you are doing is demoralizing. Which describes you?
Are you friends with your colleagues? Some of my best friends in all the world teach on my campus with me. To be surrounded by genuine and loving friends is one of the great treasures of life. If this describes you then you are a lucky teacher.
Do former students come back and say “Thank You?” Sometimes a student can seem diffident or hostile when he or she sits in your classroom. But once in a while, a student will make contact, maybe an email or even a chance conversation in the aisle at the local Target, to tell you their life is better because of your class.
Do you feel supported by your administration? This is rarer than it ought to be. But there are a lot of administrators that “get it,” who remember what it is like to be in the trenches, and who always want to facilitate instead of criticize. Hopefully you work with them.
Do you still want to improve as a teacher? This is a sign of contentment. Teachers who want to get better enjoy the process of the career arc and know that for teachers there is no mountaintop, no hoisting of the trophy. If you have no interest in getting better and improving, then you probably are not particularly content in your job.
Do you feel loyalty for the school where you teach? Community bonds have weakened in the past half-century but school spirit can compensate. If you believe in the mission of your school and enjoy the vibe of the campus you are fortunate, indeed.
Do you feel you receive just compensation? This might depend on what state you teach in. We always want to make more, sure, but some of us are paid quite well while others are sadly a step away from the poverty line.
Do you laugh at least once a day? Endorphins are a must. I have relatives who are correctional officers and they rarely smile or laugh. Lucky teachers smile freely and laugh frequently. Young people can be rather hilarious. Does this describe you?
Now add up the number of points you gave yourself to find out just how lucky (or unlucky) you are.
8-10 Points: You are lucky! You belong where you are. Keep doing what you are doing. Your contentment is contagious.
6-7 Points: There is a lot to be thankful for. However, teaching is a career with great flexibility. If you feel under compensated get yourself on a curriculum committee, teach summer school, or go back and get your Master’s Degree. Or, maybe it is time for you to leave the site where you teach and find a new school in your district. Need a new challenge? Teach a different grade level or start a new club or program on campus.
4-5 Points: There are definitely things you like about your job. The problem is that there are as many things you dislike as well. It is time to make some big changes if you plan on staying in the education profession. Or, if you are close to retirement, grin and bear it!
2-3 Points: You are not a lucky teacher, or at least you don’t feel like one. Major changes are needed in your approach or in your teaching situation. Sadly, a great many teachers feel this way but don’t make the necessary changes to improve their situation. It might be time to explore other careers.
0-1 Points: Quit or Retire!
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