One night, as a high school student I sat across from my best friend Melanie in a local Chinese restaurant in my hometown of Fayetteville. Captivated by the teen conversation, I hardly noticed when one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Harrison (changed name) strolled in casually with her husband. My eyes brightened when I heard her voice. I wanted to run up and say hello, but not wanting to intrude, I refrained. As I sat with my friend, I couldn’t help but listen to her conversation. What was her conversation about? Well, her students, the classroom, the joys, the struggles, everything. Her husband sat and patiently listened.
I couldn’t help but think at the time, “Man, she really loves teaching. She even talks about us during her off hours! There was this other part of me though, that said, “Geez, please never let me that crazy teacher. I would like to have a life outside of my job one day.”
Now, fast forward about ten or eleven years. Again, I’m sitting in a restaurant, this time with my parents and my two girls (babies at the time). As I enjoyed the conversation, I hear a familiar voice approaching behind me. Yes, it was her! Mrs. Harrison. She sat engrossed in conversation with her husband. I did not approach her, but I listened. Again, she spoke of her students–all these years later she spoke with love, passion, and excitement of her classroom and her students. I smiled, knowing yes, this was one crazy teacher. Although appreciative of her love for the classroom, I still wondered, “Doesn’t she have a life outside the classroom? Please, don’t let me be one of those crazy teachers!”
Little did I know at the time, that several years later, I’d classify myself as one of those crazy teachers. What I also didn’t realize at the time–when you love what you do, being crazy is part of the job description. So, you may be wondering what classifies a teacher as being one of the crazy ones–I’d mention the following:
1. The number one topic of all conversations is teaching! This could cover a range of topics: pedagogy, research, latest headlines, politics, student stories, writings, collaboration with others–this just touches the surface.
2. All leisure reading material surrounds teaching! If it doesn’t pertain to the craft of teaching or child development–it is basically not worth reading.
3. People who do not teach or those maybe who don’t find it so interesting anymore…don’t like to hang with you. They’re like, “Oh, please….”
4. Everything is a miracle, a discovery, or fascinates the crazy teacher. This may be for the new teacher. But, I would say this is for the passionate teacher, too. The years never jaded my favorite high school teacher that I spoke of earlier. Mrs. Harrison spoke with as much enthusiasm ten to twelve years after I graduated as when I sat in her amazing class.
5. The crazy teacher likes being around other passionate teachers. The crazy teacher will seek this connection out in any way possible (Conventions, book studies, blogging, social media). Twitter is a great outlet for the crazy teachers. This is the place–the hangout if you will for the passionate who need a venue to express their excitement about the classroom. The cool thing is–take it or leave it–you choose whether to listen to the crazy teachers.
6. The crazy teacher never changes. The passionate aren’t broken easily. Bad days–of course. Sometimes, emotions get the best of the passionate. But, when you love what you do, this is bound to happen. Why? Because the crazy teachers care. They care so much, and they want the very best for their students. So, please don’t think the crazy teacher will all of a sudden see the light. Truly, the crazy teacher has found the light, and they’re not going to let it go.
7. The crazy teacher rehearses lessons on her children and family members. Every member of a crazy teacher’s family is part of the teaching world. There is no escape!
Yes, at one time, I thought, “Please…never let be one of those crazy teachers.”
Now, I see it as the greatest honor, and I hope to remain a crazy teacher for the rest of my days. Because, at the end of every day, I realize teaching is more than a job, it’s life.
So, all you crazy teachers…stay crazy….and be good with that!