The reason why I say that teaching is a marathon, is because it is a long, 180 day journey, and doesn’t exactly come to a neat conclusion during the summer months, with preparation, planning, and professional development thrown in. You have to push yourself not only through the entire year but through the entire day. When you trip halfway through the marathon and cut your leg, you have to keep going. This is not an optional marathon. You are the chosen one to lead your kiddos to victory. No matter where you are mentally, whether you fought with a friend all weekend, didn’t get much sleep, or found out that you got rejected from a program and your scholarship was revoked, you have to have tunnel vision and block it all out. Because anything that sneaks in, your kiddos will notice.
The reason why I say that teaching is sprinting a marathon, is because you have to be quickly, precisely, and fluently changing plans, modifying lessons, and allowing for flexibility. It’s all about the speed and the pure adrenaline that pushes you farther. After grading 120 papers, having been told by your class that you aren’t their favorite teacher (and that your hair is messy) and that your order didn’t come back from the print shop (while you needed it today) you as the ‘sprinting a marathon’ teacher are pushed to the falling point. The breaking point where you are gasping for your last breath with desperation, only to realize that you have no choice, you have to continue on and do everything. And do it well.
Sprinting on a balance beam for a 180-day marathon is the cumulative description of my profession. So many people depend on you (students) you have to please so many others (parents, administrators, peers) while balancing a home life (roommates, family, others) and your day-to-day responsibilities (laundry, grocery shopping, dentist appointments) that the balancing act of holding your sanity until the end is an indescribable feat.
I don’t know how millions of teachers do it every day. I do know why though. Because it’s the best, most selfless, most changing and growing and learning profession in the world....and for the select few that do it, props to you!