• Reji Laberje

NOBODY Works A 40-Hour Week

Updated: Jul 12, 2018

Unpopular opinion alert:

Teachers are not the only hard workers in the country.

As the school year draws to a close, I am full of gratitude for the time, talent, and dedication of my children's mentors and educators. I genuinely feel that, in my daughters' performance-based charter school, the last non-collegiate stop for my two children who are still at home, their teachers honestly know them and sincerely care for them.

I was a teacher for one year in a middle school . . . math of all things for this lifelong writer . . . after a year of being a daily school sub across grades and subjects in that same school. I know what it is to give up every lunch to the students who need you, showing up before 7:00 in the morning to be there for those who need extra help, and staying late going to meetings that only take away from the time necessary for doing the real work of guiding young people, checking their work, communicating with them in a constructive manner, and relationally engaging for trust and mutual respect. I've gone to all of the school events as part of the students' support systems and especially for those young people who don't have loved ones in attendance. I've created special activities for students at all levels. I've volunteered in the name of the school for happenings in the community and beyond, even when I haven't felt passionate about the specific cause and despite the long hours already put in. I've taken the work home on weeknights and weekends. I've been counselor and confidant to students who have neither in their homes. I've been a security guard for young women who were afraid of abuse and young people who were trying to steer clear of drugs. I've hugged girls awaiting the answers to pregnancy tests and boys and girls both who lost parents, relatives, or friends. I've managed classrooms with academically gifted students sitting next to those with emotional or learning disabilities, sometimes acted out violently, and I've done it while maintaining sometimes unimportant standards and an always important atmosphere of safety and growth. Often, these various requirements of the job field forced me to take money out of my own pocket for expenses. Oh yeah . . . and I taught, too. I've also taught courses in colleges and as an artist-in-residence with a number of elementary, middle, and high schools over the years, but that work is separate from the day-to-day life of a teacher, so I'm only detailing the traditional classroom experiences. I detail it to show that I get it.

Running In Classrooms - Running In Offices - RUNNING In Life!

In short, I'm not saying that teachers don't work hard; they do. But experience has shown me that teachers are NOT the only hard workers! It seems like this politically incorrect thing to acknowledge that long hours and dedication are not exclusive to this career field. There is so much attention given to gratitude and bowing down to the "true" hours a teacher puts in. (How dare anybody mention they have weekends, holidays, and summers!) When, in reality, it's just a job with tangible and intangible pros and cons like any other. Besides teaching, I've worked as a retail manager, in restaurants, in direct sales, and as a business owner. My husband has worked with the government, in the corporate world, and in tech. Both of us have worked in the military and in ministries. I'm here to tell you that the hours, the dedication, the personal expenditures, and the emotional roller coasters of those jobs were no less than my two years of teaching. (I didn't leave because of burnout, by the way, but to pursue my writing career more fully.) I could rank these jobs by the ratio of input and exhaustion to appreciation and compensation (putting those math years to work) and teaching would come up in about the middle of the pack. Teachers don't teach just for the title or paycheck anymore than any of these other jobs, though. Teaching is about a certain set of ideals that can be affected through that career choice. So, the career comes out as a balance of purpose and input for those who choose to stay in it and are happy. The same is true for any other job.

Hard truth alert:

Adulthood takes hard work!

So, sure; thank a teacher this week as your school year comes to a close. But also thank your grocer, your pastor, your server, your daycare provider, your internet technician, your real estate agent, the entertainers or athletes at the events you attend, and the business owner of your favorite coffee shop. Odds are, they are putting in the same amount of work as your children's teachers, but without the politically correct career or appropriate title to elicit your "required" appreciation and gratitude.

And, writers, guess what...

Speaking of those coffee shops, I'd like to dispel a myth. Successful writers and authors are not poetically sitting in a cafe all day jotting down their thoughts and dreams. If you want to turn your book into a business, you know what it will take?

  • Work.

  • Dedication.

  • Time.

  • Talent.

  • Research.

  • Resources.

It's a job.

Writing can be incredibly rewarding work or a lifelong career, just as teaching is rewarding when you see the wins . . . big and small . . . in the students you've learned to love and programs you've worked to create. Think of all that went into those teaching wins: that long list of tasks accomplished by a long list of teachers. Why would (or should) your career choice of writing require any less?

Famous sales speaker, Belinda Ellsworth once said:

"If somebody tells you, 'The work is so easy, it does itself!' RUN! Run the other way. Anything worth having takes work."

Are you willing to work for your writing career? It can be done with a plan and it can be oh so rewarding! If you don't know the next steps required for your writing career, set up a consultation with Bucket List to Bookshelf, today, by emailing: reji.laberje@gmail.com.


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