Look at the picture below. They look like some random group of ordinary people, don’t they? They vary in age, background, marital status, sexual orientation, interests, hobbies … they’re a motley crew.
They’re some of the members of the team of teachers at the International School Groningen; the picture was taken at our end-of-year staff party. They’re my team, only now they won’t be my team anymore; I’m leaving this job.
I said above that they’re ordinary, but they’re not ordinary at all. They’re teachers, and that makes them very special.
They work incredibly hard. They constantly make that extra effort to accommodate each kid’s particular needs, as well as the needs of the kid’s parents. They do everything they can to make their teaching – and make their students’ learning – interesting and stimulating and always progressing. I’m not saying they always succeed – they’re human, after all – but they try their very best, often pushing themselves beyond what they can reasonably do.
They choose to do this. That’s what makes me admire them enormously; after all, I’m choosing not to do this anymore. (Or, at least, not to teach teenagers anymore; I’m keeping my college-teaching job.) Teaching teenagers has worn me out, yet this bunch of driven, professional, warm, caring people, seems to manage to keep up that level of dedication year after year after year, some for a lot longer than I’ve been at it.
I’m in awe of them.
And not only do they keep that motivation up in their day-to-day teaching, they also work together arranging special programs, creating interdisciplinary projects, and generally being pleasant, supportive and cooperative with each other over cups of coffee in the staff room every day.
No matter what you think about the hours teachers work, they certainly don’t do it for the long vacations. They do it because they feel a calling. They do it because they care and want to make a difference in some small way.
I did it for the same reasons, but I’m tired now, which is why I’m stopping. I know this is the right decision, but the only doubts I’ve felt have been because of this team. They’re the best. I’m going to miss chatting with them between classes, working with them to plan curriculum, brainstorming ideas for lessons, joking with them about anything and everything. I’m going to miss the emotional support they gave me, even when they didn’t realize it, just by listening to me or giving me a kind word.
I’m sure there are many other schools with great teams, but this one … this one is special because they were MY team. I’ll miss them.