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We live in a world that is more and more about the measurable productivity of our prescribed, standardized work than about the creative processes of our occupation. Neither public school teachers nor university professors are immune from this capitalistic phenomenon of the industrial and now post-industrial age. However, if we are to labor meaningfully in our chosen occupation of teachers, we must continue to question the ways our daily activity can be turned into creative, caring, and spirited "labor" consummate with our sense of calling, rather than our calculatedly obligatory "work." We ask the reader to contemplate with us the nature of self-direction through self-reflection on three questions about our teaching: With what am I occupied? How does it occupy me? How do I occupy it? These difficult questions ultimately receive diverse answers from different people. We would like to suggest that it is best to occupy teaching as creative labor that embraces bodies and souls rather than rote work more dependent on the rules and regulations that govern the discipline, though we do not deny the "work" inherent in teaching. We will explore the occupation of teaching by putting John Dewey's (1916/1980) chapter on the vocational aspects of education in Democracy and Education into dialogue with American poet Walt Whitman's (1871/1993) "A Song for Occupations." Both poet and philosopher push us to consider who we are within our occupations as well as what potential lies in our roles not as mere workers, but inspired laborers. They perceive that we find the eternal meanings in the everyday "labor of engines and trades and the labor of fields" (p. 187); and that the "realization of the activity rather than merely external product" (Dewey, 1916/1980, p. 309) is the truest democratic aim of occupation. In the current environment of education these concepts resonate clearly.