At the end of class, I remind my students of tomorrow's change in class location. "So, where are we meeting tomorrow?"
"Media Center!" most of the students yell in unison.
"Texas Roadhouse!" says one small voice.
"Yeah, and you can buy us all lunch on your HUGE teacher's salary!" one kid chimes in with a devilish grin in his eye. His smile and his tone make it 100% clear that he's being sarcastic.
The kids are pretty informed. I can tell many of them have seen the anti-teacher garbage in the news based on the jokes they're making. "You even get health care!" one kid says.
The laughter reminded me that they don't think I'm milking the system. They don't question my motives for being there. They don't question the hours I work when I make it a priority to return their research notes so they can work on their essays during break.
THEY are the reason I teach.