A few weeks ago, I pulled out my camera and make a video titled Teaching is Tiring. I wanted to encourage my teacher friends as we headed down the final stretch of the school year. I was worn out from a long year and figured they were too.
Turns out, I was right. Since posting the video last month, it’s been shared more than 300,000 times. It also has more than 18 million views (and counting). I’ve heard of it being shown at staff meetings in Morocco, passed along to friends in Pakistan, and even used to encourage teachers in China. My cousin in Texas had a friend share it with her, and she’s like—hey I know that guy!
I thought I was making a quick little teacher video for my English department, but I’m honored that it resonated with (and hopefully uplifted) teachers around the world.
Here’s what I learned when my video went viral. I hope that it will remind you, as it has me, that the work we do is important. It’s powerful. And it’s definitely worth it.
1. The struggles and joys of teaching are universal
My personal inbox has been flooded with messages from teachers all over the world. Madiha in Pakistan wrote to me about how hard her first year of teaching has been, and the hope she now has that her work is not in vain.
Maria in Chile told me how she cried when she saw the video. Dave in Germany wrote to me and said that he now wants to become a teacher. Cara, Shelly, Rob, Jeneanne, Matt, Julia, and so many other teachers have sent me essentially the same message: thanks for naming what we do and reminding me why we do it.
Teachers everywhere are working hard to love kids, teach them complex content, counsel them through tough times, grade hundreds of their papers, teach discipline, and all of the other things that go into teaching. We’re all working towards the same things. There is something powerful knowing the solidarity that comes with being a teacher.
2. Teachers have each other’s backs
When 10,000 people comment on a video you made, it turns out not all of them are very nice. Nearly 99.9 percent of the comments were encouraging and uplifting, praising teachers everywhere. But the internet is also full of trolls.
People posted things like, “Waa Waa Waa, try doing a real job instead of part-time babysitting.” Or, “I’m so sick of teachers complaining, at least you get the summers off!” My personal favorite, “This dude is ugly! He looks like a loaf of bread!”
However, every time a rude comment was posted, a barrage of teachers would swoop in and bury the troll. They’d offer him the opportunity to try getting a teaching degree, student teaching, finding a job, and teaching every day. They would list the number of reasons why are our summers aren’t vacation—how lesson planning, professional development, house painting, and parenting all factor in.
They’d say things like, “He’s not ugly, that man is sexy!” (okay, that one was my wife).
Being a teacher is being a part of a tribe, and this tribe defends one another.
3. We all need encouragement
Let’s face it, the work of a classroom teacher can be difficult. Maybe not always physically strenuous (although sometimes …), but mentally exhausting. And when you spend your entire day with students, have very little interaction with other teachers, and are surrounded by a society that generally does not have a high esteem for the profession—a little encouragement can go a long way. If my two-minute video could uplift teachers around the world, imagine how powerful encouragement must be in person.
4. People appreciate their teachers
The vast majority of comments and shares on my video were by non-teachers tagging a teacher they know and thanking them. Teachers are some of the most impactful people in society. This teacher video spread so rapidly because millions of people outside of education realize that.
5. Teaching is so worth it
You would be hard-pressed to find an experienced teacher who has not second-guessed their profession. But the reaction to the final minute of this video that lists a few (there are SO many more) of the reasons teaching is worth it, resonates with anyone who has stepped foot in a classroom. Teachers wouldn’t tolerate the politics, salary, helicopter parents, standardized tests, etc. if the work was not worth it.
But it is. Teaching is one of the most noble professions there is. I’m glad I said it for the world to hear (including a few haters).
You can see the full video of Teaching is Tired here: