On Thursday, I wrote about Murakami's quote about running and writing, focusing on how he explains that, "Basically, a writer has a quiet, inner motivation and doesn’t seek validation in the outwardly visible.” I think the same applies to teaching.
A friend and I used to joke about how when people say, "You're a teacher? That must be so rewarding!" we often think, no, it is not rewarding at all. For a teacher, the rewards are few and far between. Most of us don't have coworkers or supervisors regularly seeing our brilliant work, telling us we are doing a good job. Our "clientele" are children, and if we look for rewards solely from their approval, we are likely to be disappointed or really, really bad teachers. Learning takes a long time, with many setbacks along the way, so we might not even fully see the results of our work in the year or less that we have with our students.
In order to continue to teach long term, we have to find our "quiet, inner motivation." We have to develop our own goals and standards for our work and continually work to improve on last year, last week, yesterday. In this way, teaching is so much like running . I'm not in this to compete with my colleagues or get awards or recognition. I'm just here everyday, putting one foot in front of the other, trying to be a little better than I was yesterday.