Or, I'm just crazy
Best column so far. Many of us go into teaching to avoid the vulnerability that other jobs necessitate, but it is even more crucial here. Brene Brown describes the need for vulnerability best and connects it to courage, which brings the point back to Palmer. That vulnerability means we go the extra mile in crafting the writing assignment or exam question even though it adds immensely to our workload, when we revise a syllabus that has been tried and true for 10 years even though that compels us to rethink what we had always thought, and when we read the class such that we change a course midstream as we feel our students take the conversation in a direction which opens a moment that would be otherwise lost to exploration. There is some payback for that 10% as well. For example, when an assignment seems to only bring on complaints about its demands but yields responses that are intensely indicative of the deep way in which the students have actually embraced it, when a student pushes back forcing you to explain, defend, or find new ways to reach an understanding then you later see the student expressing that understanding to others, and when a student comes back - sometimes years later - to share how much your teaching has influenced their approach to life and career. Vulnerability and courage are the keys.
When I've tried to describe why I find teaching so simultaneously rewarding and exhausting, I've often defaulted to the performative aspects of the job. When you're teaching, it is your job to have all eyes on you, watching, judging, taking, for hours at a time. And that is truly exhausting. No matter how much of a "natural performer" you may be, putting your energy out for others' consumption for 50 hours a week is a much harder thing to do than people realize. But, as I said, it is also so rewarding; for me it's that little light in students' eyes when a concept clicks. That's the moment when everything becomes worth it, when the connection you have with your student overtakes the everyday roles you both occupy and experience a brief moment of transcendence. That's my ten percent.