Do it for Yourself

10/06/2010 12:29 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I've heard it said over and over "teaching is my job, not my life." No one believes this more than I, but while it is not my life, it is a big chunk of my life. If I added up all the hours of the week, I would prove mathematically that the majority of my time is spent not with family or friends, but in the work environment.

Leading a happy life is of utmost importance to me and since I do spend quite a bit of time in school, I want that part of my week to be an uplifting experience. Oh, don't get me wrong. I am not one of those Pollyanas that only see life through rose colored glasses. There are plenty of things I don't like about being at work. (Read my regular blog if you have any doubts about this.) There are plenty of things a person can do the make the work experience more enjoyable.

For me, being with the kids is something I enjoy immensely. (I would hope every teacher feels this way.) Being in the classroom is great, but it is hard to get to know them when all you see is school work, or lack of school work daily. For this reason I try to attend as many after school events as possible. Going to the school play, or the spring concert, gives me an opportunity to see the talents and skills my students possess that often do not show up while doing a geometry proof. Cheering the boy who just barely passed an algebra test hit a home run is not only good for him, but it is good for me as well.

I don't advocate giving up all personal time to attend school events. But, no one is really busy all the time. From my earliest days in the classroom, I made the time to be more than an eight period a day teacher. I attended awards assemblies, soccer games, open mike night and just about anything else that fit into my schedule. When my children were young, they came with me and grew up knowing my students. I didn't do any of this to make the school look good because when I started teaching no one cared if the schools looked good or not. When, at 21 years old, I stood on the stage at Julia Richman High School, pillows stuffed under my shirt, singing "I'm just a girl who can't say no" I felt good about myself. I was thrilled to be a part of the fund raising and felt high on the love coming from the kids in the audience.

I am now in the final stages of my teaching career. Saying goodbye and putting the chalk away will not be an easy thing for me to do. It's the kids that I will miss. They are the ones that have kept me feeling young and keep me going strong. My advice to anyone either just starting out, or even in the middle, is get involved. Don't do it for the administration, Don't even do it for the kids. Do it for yourself. You won't be sorry.