The moment I left my journalism career to work as junior school teacher, I immediately noticed something: no one asked me about my job anymore.
When I was a journalist, people asked me all the time: “So how’s the job?” with an intense look in their eye, as if I was about to empower them with my answer.
The day I became a teacher, people just asked: “So how you?” [sic] with that vacant auto-pilot look that greets most people, most days.
I think the perception is that teaching kids is simple, mundane and predictable… ho-hum, blah-blah fishpaste… unlike the newsroom, which people think is the opposite.
The classroom is a controlled (read: boring) environment, people think. Whereas in a newsroom, any minute you could get a phonecall of a story that sends you’re skidmarking out the car park with a handheld video camera, a notebook in your top pocket and a pencil behind your ear, forgetting the important conversation you were having with the editor when the phone rang.
And yet, I’ve never looked back.
I’m grateful for those journo days. They still hold me in good stead and help me navigate life through a completely different lens to my counterparts who graduated with a B.Ed and did a year travelling Europe.
A pastor asked me after the first two days on the job if life had become easier than it had been previously (in the media), to which I replied “It’s a completely different kind of intensity!”
I thought I worked hard as a journalist. And I did. And I always gawked at teachers saying they “needed” the school holidays. What other profession allows 48 days leave per year? Pffft, I thought. But to quote Tobymac in Till The Day I Die: “You say you’re working harder…hmmm I doubt that.” That is my mantra now in my current disposition. I like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s mantra of being the hardest worker in the room.
To compare the two roles is an interesting exercise. As a journalist you have to go looking for real stories, but as a teacher, real stories come looking for you. Before you’ve even said good morning to the class, 17 out of 24 children are all running within a noisehair of your face to tell you about their gran’s birthday or they’re getting a guitar or their little brother stood on their toy and now they have to get a neeew oooone.
For me as I’ve reflected, it’s obvious that we have the power to make a difference wherever we are. However, I’ve realised two things…
Firstly, teaching is the profession that teaches all other professions.
Secondly, when someone asks why one would ever become a teacher, I remind them why it’s worth it. Every job has it’s ups and downs, but not every job can change a life.