At the beginning of every week, I get paid from the school. I usually put it in my bag before the students come in, but this morning I had forgotten. In the search for a pencil, one of my students found my envelope.
“What’s this??” He yelled, waving it in the air.
“Oh that’s just my pay check. Can you put it in my bag?” I asked, as I continued passing out papers.
“You mean you get PAID for teaching us?”
“Yes…” I replied, unsure of where this was going.
“So, you’re only doing this because you’re getting paid? You actually DON’T want to be here?!” He said dramatically as he “faints” into his chair.
At this point, he had the class’ attention and all I could hear were the woes and sighs of students pretending to be hurt by this dramatic declaration. However, I decided to take it a step further. I mean, how could you pass up such a great teaching moment?
“Hold up a sec. Do you really think I’m only here because I’m getting paid?”
A chorus of yesses came from my snickering students. I knew they were trying to see how far this joke would go, but I ventured further.
“Ok, so am I only acting like I like this job because I’m getting paid? Does money equal happiness?”
“Uh oh, here it comes.” someone whispered – I tried not to giggle.
Then one of my dear students, that one who takes joy in pretending to give you grief, raised his hand.
“Yes?” I said, interested in what his response might be.
“If you were not getting paid, you wouldn’t be here but not because you don’t like being here. We know you love us and we know you love teaching us, but we also know that you need to earn money to live and stuff. You wouldn’t be here because you would need to be working somewhere else to earn money, but that doesn’t mean you don’t love us, ’cause you do. No, money doesn’t equal happiness, but you do need to survive.”
“BUT teachers hardly get paid like, anything so, like, OBVIOUSLY she likes us.” Another student piped up.
He turned around in his chair and replied, “Well you know, she likes planting seeds and watching things grow, so that’s why she loves us so much.”
I stood there beaming – so happy that they understood this concept.
“Yes, you all are my little seedlings.” I said with a smile as the class groaned. “I’ve been able to see you twelve grow and flourish this year and it makes me so happy, but you know what? It’s not just me planting seeds, you get to as well. If each of you plants just one seed in another life, that’s twenty-four people growing and if they do the same, that’s forty-eight! This just keep going and going until there is a whole field of beautiful knowledge for everyone to learn from. I’m thankful for you all and I do love this job. Now, back to our originally scheduled programming…”
Everyone laughed and turned to their papers and my heart became incredibly full.