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Worth it

June 20, 2013

I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, and I knew from a young age that meant setting myself up for a lifetime of relatively low wages and under-appreciation. But you don’t go into teaching because you want to make money. Still, when I was offered my first teaching job last year, at an international school in Saudi Arabia, I was shocked by the tiny salary they were offering. It was ironic, really, since most of the expats I know have moved here because of the chance to make lots of money. Yet there I stood, about to accept a full-time professional position that would pay me less than what most of the gardeners and housemaids around here make.

It was a tough decision, because I knew in my first year I’d be putting in tons of extra hours planning and grading, hours that wouldn’t be compensated at all. I knew I was signing up for a stressful year of getting up at the crack of dawn, suffering through an hour-long commute, and struggling to find my groove as a brand-new teacher. And yet, in the end, I knew all along I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by. Despite the long hours, despite the measly wage, I held on to the hope that it would all be worth it because I’d be doing my dream job.

It’s now been 9 long months of teaching and learning for me, and I can honestly say I was right. I’ve never had a job that paid me less than minimum wage before, but I’ve also never had a job that I was actually excited to go to every day. I’ve never had a job that really motivated me to be better. I’ve never had a job that actually made me feel like I was having an impact.

There were tough days, sure, when lessons didn’t go as planned, or when I had to sit through tedious and pointless faculty meetings. And many mornings when the alarm went off at 5:15, I grumbled. But I never once wished that I had not accepted the job. My colleagues have been nothing but encouraging and welcoming, and my students…well, there are really no words to describe them, other than to say that I could not have wished for a more lively, motivated, funny, sweet, and unique group. The words they wrote in my yearbook sum up the kind of fantastic people they are, and they also prove to me once and for all that everything was very, very much worth it:

“I personally never liked LA, but since the last two years I’ve met a few great teachers including you! Thank you for teaching us this year, it was my favorite class.”

“I am honored to be one of your first students you taught. You made me love LA after a really bad experience with LA teachers in middle school. BTW I am actually reading a book and I am not forced to!”

“Because of you I actually wrote three and a half stories this year. I used to like writing but now I LOVE it.”

Their sweet comments filled up my yearbook and proved that even if I did not teach them every single thing I had hoped to, and even if I screwed up a few times along the way, I made a difference. This year taught me that there are other ways to gain from a job aside from the paycheck. I know this post is really cheesy already, but I had to share because it’s what’s on my heart, and what has been for the entire last 9 months. Those kids have changed me forever, because they made me a teacher. In retrospect, I would have gladly done it all for free.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2013 8:10 am

    i love yearbooks. so glad you took the risk and taught! being busy is better than bored any day.

  2. June 20, 2013 1:44 pm

    I think this deserves a congrats… so CONGRATS! You made it a full year through a dream job with minimum pay, I’d say that’s pretty amazing. It sounds like you really did make an impact and I’m really glad you’re happy doing something you love.

  3. snowwhore permalink*
    June 26, 2013 12:45 pm

    I love you! And I’d just like to slip in a little told you so as well from your friends the naughty princesses who encouraged you to take this job in the first place while you were wavering on the decision. Not that you wouldn’t have done it anyway, we just like taking some of the credit 😉

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