The biggest highlight of teaching is seeing how much the students improve throughout the year. Also the lowest moment of teaching is seeing some of the students not improve as much as you would like. When they do not improve or attempt to improve the frustration level of the job rises to almost unbearable proportions.
Dealing with frustration is part of the job and after a decade of teaching and seeing lots of teachers come and go, from what I have seen the ability to deal with frustration is what separates career teachers from those that are just passing through. Unfortunately with the ever increasing pressure of high stakes testing from getting students to graduate to teachers keeping their job it seems like it is getting harder to deal with the those things that frustrate teachers.
For example, this year while getting my students ready for their big end of the year test, a test that not only will mean if they graduate or not, but will also help determine if my school is considered failing or passing by the state department, I have reviewed the material in a variety of ways at least a half dozen times, given them an end of the year test study guide 6 weeks ago, placed that information online, and will spend the next two weeks reviewing in class. Despite all of those things, I still have 4 or 5 students per class that are probably going to struggle. It can all be a little frustrating but what takes that frustration level up another notch is when my principal asks me what else am I going to do to get those other students passing. At that point when I am at my wits end I take a deep breath and ask myself a simple question. Did I give it my best shot to teach all of my students and give them their best opportunity that I could to pass the test?
After a decade of teaching I have been able to say yes to that question and the frustrating part of the job just melts away. As longs I know that I did my best then all that is left is for the students to do their part.