(This was also submitted to Teaching Tolerance)

About one month into school, I am back to that feeling of constant exhaustion.  There are field trips to arrange, poetry workshops to juggle, Big Maps to create, math assessment data to pull, reading assessments to finish, e-mails to reply to, blog posts to approve, turtle books to preview, permission slips to collect, writing flipcharts to design, Challenge Based Learning (CBL) resources to find, supplies to buy for Big Maps and writing, groups to organize for the field trip and the big maps, and a big presentation to prepare for the end of the month  And that’s just the items on my immediate radar.  I don’t even want to think about next week and that to do list.  When people say, “but you have the summer off”, they have no idea about the length of our school day or the time we put in each and every weekend to plan for the next week as well as correct from the previous week.  This is my 12th year and it isn’t any easier.   Plus, I have the desire to write more, read more, exercise more, walk my dog more, and hang out with my husband more.  24 hours in a day just doesn’t cut it.

So, why do I teach?

Flowers from One of My Last Year's Students

The answer arrives in a bouquet of flowers picked from one of my former student’s gardens delivered to my door step this afternoon.  The answer is seeing my students saying, “what no CBL today?”.  The answer is seeing my former students as they progress through middle school and high school.  The answer is in talking with a former student who is pondering becoming a teacher about education in 2010.  The answer is in watching children connect with the natural world around them whether it be the Assabet River, Eastern Spadefoot Toads or Blanding’s turtles.  The answer is in watching students create incredible products that demonstrates a high level of understanding.  The answer is in a handwritten note, thanking me for their fourth grade year.  I could go on and on, but the reason is why I teach can best be summed up from one of the stanzas from the song “Getting to Know You” from the King and I:

It’s a very ancient saying,
But a true and honest thought,
That if you become a teacher,
By your pupils you’ll be taught.

So, even though these days are long and tiring, the joy I receive from my students makes me trudge through another day.