You should just quit now. Throw away your education textbooks, drop your pedagogy classes, sell your classroom supplies. You don’t actually want to be a teacher.
But I do! you exclaim with wide eyes and lots of indignation. You’ve got bright ideas about how your classroom is going to cause your students to learn and be full of wonder and you’ll fight that system of testing and assessment.
Oh, I’m sure you can handle that. The unsupportive administrators and overbearing parents you face will be nothing. I’m sure you can fight and work in the most underfunded and overcrowded schools in the nation. I’m positive your tenacity and your resolve will pull you through the long days and the late nights planning. You’ll be resourceful and committed and thorough.
But I’m still telling you that you should just quit now. Unless…
Unless you’re willing to have your heart crushed and wrung and torn into a million pieces - because it will be. Unless you’re willing to look a 10th grade boy who is in love with his best friend and oh so confused about it in the eyes and say “I know you’re struggling with it. I know. Just wait for her.” Unless you’re willing to hope, hope, hope with those football players and feel the crushing weight of defeat when they fall barely short.
Quit now unless you’re willing to cry lots of snotty tears with a girl who hates her body and wants to escape it at every chance. Give up unless you’re willing to sit in silence with the student who keeps everyone at an emotional distance. Change careers unless you want to have your heart ache at night knowing there are students who are collapsing under the pressure of their lives.
I’m warning you, quit now, because you’ll only have a few years [or less] with them. You’ll share your life with them and share your heart with them and find out that this student is colorblind and this student hates gum and this student always writes the date in Roman numerals and before you realize it you’ll be in love. And then one day you’ll wake up and suddenly they’re gone, moved on to be juniors and seniors and oh, they’re graduating. Your heart will ache and your heart will break and you’ll wonder why you ever cared at all.
But be forewarned! By then you’ll meet new students, new babies, new hearts and souls that will suddenly capture you just like the others before. And you’ll go through the whole thing again.
So if you’re willing to be constantly broken and constantly vulnerable and constantly loving beyond yourself, by all means become a teacher. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.