Friday, August 6, 2010

Measuring Your Worth

I am happy to report that I was just hired for the position I spoke about in my last entry. I'm actually pretty excited about it. I've missed teaching. Not just the actual teaching aspect of the classroom, but the children and families I worked with. I miss seeing my preschoolers, experiencing life with them, exploring new concepts and learning ideas. I miss my school.

Now I'll have a new classroom, with new students and families, and an assistant. I'll be responsible for planning and implementing my own curriculum. I won't have to share space or time with other teachers. I've always told my preschoolers that I have to practice sharing too--and truthfully, I'm not always very good at it. So I'm kind of looking forward to not having to share as much for awhile.

I know, going in to this job, there will be two things that will be challenging for me. The first will be to table my analyses of other people's work with children. I've spent the last ten years helping beginning teachers analyze their work. That's a skill that can be very useful when it's welcomed but pretty destructive when it's not. Learning to table it will be an important lesson.

More importantly will be my ability to measure my own worth in something other than dollar signs. So often our culture focuses on the bottom line--the almighty dollar--as a measure of how valuable we are. We look at our net worth, our 401k's, our annual income (gross or net) to determine our contributions and how much we should value one another. After all, you don't generally look for a doctor or dentist in a dirty, rundown medical practice, do you? You look for the professional whose surroundings communicate wealth. That signifies cutting edge resources and success.

Measuring my own self-worth is important to me. It's important to feel like I'm achieving goals and taking care of my family. Just as important, though, is the ability to contribute to the greater good, to know that something I have done has affected somebody else in a positive way. Given someone something they wouldn't have had otherwise. Those measures--ones that are more abstract--are life altering and powerfully defining.

Going into this position, I hope that I'll be able to remember that. Keeping in mind the reasons I took this job that didn't have to do with money is going to be important. Figuring out how I'm worth something that doesn't have a dollar attached to it.

I'm keeping it in mind.

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