My Life’s Work

Potter and ClaySo often the great scholars and artists speak of their “life’s work” (usually in movies when said work is going up in flames, but that’s beside the point). Yesterday I saw a billboard on the side of the road, an ad for a college. It was probably aimed at people older than the traditional college age and asked something to the effect of “have you found your life’s work?”

Well, because I’m easily sucked in I actually pondered this billboard. I have no plans to become a great scholar or scientist necessarily. I don’t think I’ll be devoting my life to researching a cure for cancer or fighting poverty. I realized, however, that my life’s work will be my students.

As a teacher, my kids will be the ones I stay up nights for, worry over, whose success I obsess about. They’ll be the thing that keeps me going, keeps me moving, and makes it all worth it in the end. (Somehow.) Their learning will be what I measure myself by. They will be the thing I would give up anything for.

I’ve been thinking the last few days about money. Stupid idea, I know. But student loans are scary. The company servicing my loans was kind enough to email me a snapshot of my current debt earlier this week. My mom and I were also discussing a young woman we know who recently graduated as a PA and will be making a considerable salary (more than a teacher’s I’ll tell you that!).

Here’s the thing. If I wanted to, I’m certainly smart enough to be a PA. I have the potential. I’m not belittling what they do, I’m just saying I didn’t pick education because it was an easy A (though yeah I wouldn’t call most of my ED classes thus far challenging). I chose education because I felt called to it.There’s a thousand other things I could do with my life. A thousand other majors. But I chose elementary education because I want to help children and because it’s where God called me.

I went on a rant recently along these same lines, saying how I hope my students appreciate it. And sure, it would be nice if I was appreciated. But what’s going to make it worth it in the end is to see my life’s work succeed. To see a third grader understand fractions or a second grader read “magnificent” or to see them walk across that stage at graduation and know I helped get them there.

My students are my life’s work. Classes will come and go but children will always hold a special place in my heart.

Whether I’m a teacher or a mom or an aunt I would be devoting myself to children. I believe today’s children are tomorrow’s Einsteins, Washingtons, and Austens. They deserve the chance to become the people they are meant to be. I want a hand in forming the artists, thinkers, and world-shakers of the next generation, for the better.

So no, I won’t be making 6 figures and making big changes on the global stage. But maybe my students will.

NOTE: I wrote this post over 2 weeks ago but never got around to publishing it. It speaks to my thoughts at the time and in my firm belief that teaching and/or children are meant to be the focus of my life. Upon rereading this tonight, however, I realize you could replace “my students” with “my kids”. (But that will depend on where God leads me of course.)

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