Friday, October 18, 2013

Why I Play the Lottery

It's not about the money.

Okay, okay, that's a little simplistic. Playing the lottery, naturally, is about the money. And it's common knowledge that when someone says it's not about the money, it's precisely about the money. And, strangely, people use the same expression about teaching.

So I'll try again. It's not about striking it rich. Hmm... Yes, that's about right. I don't definitely don't have some pressing need to buy a million things and go crazy (like most every lottery winner tragically does).
What is it about, then? Why throw away that dollar? If you're looking for a sense of financial security a dollar spent in any way whatsoever is bound to disappoint you. If you're looking to buy interesting things that ordinarily we wouldn't consider, there are plenty of Dollar Trees around. No, the whole motivation is something different entirely.

More and more, I want to feel that I don't "have" to do these things at my job. I like my job. Actually, this year, SLO's aside, I can even say I love my job. But there is so much hassle, enormous amounts of paperwork that only satisfies state and federal requirements with realistically 1% of all of that effort in some way getting back to helping students.

What would I do if I won the lottery? I would like to think that I would stay at my job. I love my school and believe in the mission of working with children to help them achieve a better life. So I'd like to think I would stay. In all of this, though, it would be nice to have some sense of security. It would be nice not to be 99% sure that the state pension is a lie that will be revoked from teachers 15 years down the road. It would be nice to earn a wage in some way commiserate with how much I work, how much training I've had, and how important my job is.

Sadly, though, I will probably never get those things. But the thing I would like most of all is the assurance that, of all these tedious things our school systems cook up, I don't have to them. Don't get me wrong - I do them. Sometimes I want to cry about doing them. What I mean is that I would like to not feel so compelled, that I don't have to do them. That I don't have to spend countless hours on documentation no one will view,that I don't have to attend meeting after meeting when I'd much rather be preparing my classroom, and - our favorite this year - that I don't have to write SLO's.

Instead, I would like to have the feeling that we did when we first entered teaching: I do these things - sometimes plenty of extra things - so that I can work with children. If I do all of these things, then I can make a difference in someone's life. We made plenty of sacrifices just to get in to teaching. Somehow I kind of expected them to stop after a while, but no. There are more than ever.

So I play the lottery to remind myself that working with children is a gift that I chose. Everything else that goes with teaching is a shame for sure, but at the same time, it can act as a reminder of how special the profession really is.

That's how I win.