There are about 180 days in a school year. Multiply that by the number of years you've been teaching. That's a crap-ton of days.
Many of them are good, or just okay. Many of them leave you wondering whether or not you're any good at teaching at all. A few of them turn out to be terrible.
But once in a while, you have a day that makes living through all of those other days completely worth it. For me, yesterday was one of those days.
Last night, I was recognized by our district's Board of Education for "contributions to the school and the community." It was a pretty cool honor.
I was already having an awesome day. I finished grading quizzes that my students had taken this week. They did well overall, but I was particularly impressed by many of my students who had been struggling. Those students have been making a point of coming to me for help, participating more in class, and generally just turning things around. They've been busting their butts, and their work is paying off. It's thrilling to see those students experience success in my class; there have been smiles and high fives all around.
In the evening, I attended the Board meeting to be recognized along with a few other students and staff from our district. When my name was called, I went up to the front to receive my framed certificate:
After my principal said a few things about me, I had a moment to shake the hands of every Board member.
One of them, whose son graduated a couple of years ago (and whom I had taught for two years) stopped me for a moment to tell me: "I want you to know, my son has decided to switch his major to math because of you."
Wow. I mean, just wow. That pretty much describes what I felt at that moment. I didn't really know what to say. I think I almost started crying, or at least got a bit teary. It was just so awesome to hear those words.
That news, that moment, meant a hundred times more to me than any award or certificate. The feels. The feels.
As a teacher, when you have students, you don't always know whether or not you've having any kind of impact on their lives. Most of the time, I feel like I have no idea whether or not I'm having any impact. I guess sometimes you don't find out for sure until after those students graduate and move on. But however long it takes, when you do find out you had a positive impact on a student, it's completely worth it. Nothing else really matters.
Somewhere down the line, I'm going to have a terrible day and I'll need something to lift my spirits; that's why I had to write about my awesome day. I'll always have this to come back to when I need to be reminded why teaching is so rewarding and worth everything.