Many careers make this claim, usually made by up-and-coming bright achievers as they rise rapidly to the peak of their powers. And yes, the high job satisfaction that comes from quick progress can promote a sense of optimistic, positive bias. But ‘the best job in the world’… really?
Can you really tell me anything genuinely beats the privilege of being trusted for hours a day by families to contribute to the development of their most treasured possession? To be given the chance to work with the amazing potential of our next generation and create the conditions that enables and empowers them to achieve more than us? I’m yet to hear about any form of job satisfaction that comes anywhere close.
To share the joy of enlightenment as a young mind has the light bulb moment when things click into place… to watch the wonder and amazement as they learn new profound insights that feed their thirst to learn more about their world… to share their excitement and buzz of reaching some new pinnacle of achievement that they didn’t think possible.
To be embraced by an ageing couple in a garden centre who thank you tearfully for not giving up on their son 20 years ago and giving them belief in the person within and not getting stuck at the observed performance and behaviour.
To be told by a four year old foundation stage pupil, innocently I think, as they were coming to grips with the school staffing hierarchy, “You’re the head bastard aren’t you”!
To be thanked quietly on results day by the student who you’d mentored through personal difficulty and academic struggles to exceed all expectations in their exams and step onto the path of achievement that defied all targets and predictions.
To be invited by a grieving family to share their moment of inexplicable loss at the sudden death of their daughter and support the school community to simultaneously reconcile their sense of loss and share their compassion. To watch youths who were normally ‘too cool to sing’ belt out her favourite song, heads held high, tears streaming down their cheeks to honour their friend.
To meet a young adult in the street who tells you that it was your words and supportive relationship that made all the difference to them years before as they were struggling to complete their coursework and prepare for exams.
To be told by colleagues and children alike that those little words, spoken without any understanding of their significance at the time, were the ones that picked them up and set them back on their journey with hope and renewed ambition.
You try and tell me that there’s any job like it in life and I’ll call you a liar. Teaching truly is a most honourable and privileged job.
Yes, there are things that detract. Yes, there are teachers who lose this love. Yes, there are even those for whom the spark is almost extinguished and they walk away sadly. But in almost every instance the diminishing causes are ‘system stuff’… the management trappings and the crude attempts of leaders to administer effectively.
But strip all this away, as the best leaders do, to set their teachers free to teach and the fundamental core of education, the exciting and dynamic relationship between teacher and learners, is both unique and life affirming like nothing else.
Truly teaching is the best job in the world.
by Peter Chilvers, SDSA