For the Love of Teaching and Learning: Why Teachers Teach (In Their Own Words)
Teachers are an integral facet of society. Their effort and impact is infinite. Through education, society passes on knowledge, values, history, and the collective sense of community. Education is how a society celebrates its past and prepares for its future. Teachers are the facilitators of education!
However, given the clear importance of teachers to the society for whom they serve, teachers are quite a controversial group of people. Depending on who you ask, we pay them too much—or not enough; they are experts—they are failing our children; they are selfless child advocates—or they work for summers off. During my 20 years in education, I have met countless teachers and 99% of them have noble and admirable reasons for being educators. Most teachers do not think of their work as a job, but as a calling. They work to serve society and contribute to the advancement of humanity. As this school year comes to a close, I asked some of the educators that I work with to tell me why they love teaching. I hope their words inspire you as much as they inspired me, and I hope they will remind you to thank the educator who serves your children and your community. Happy reading and happy summer!
For me, the teaching profession allows me to continue learning and applying what I have learned. It allows me to constantly meet new people and experience the diversities in human beings. That said, teaching makes me more patient and open-minded. Teaching often shocks me, delights me, and satisfies me—often in the same day. And that is best part—you never know how your day will begin or end . . . which makes life a little more interesting. —Lynn K.
I think I knew very early on in life that my vocation was to be a teacher. I had a love of learning instilled by my parents as well as by my early teachers; both encouraging and cheering on my competitive and inquisitive mind. I always loved a challenge and found incredible joy in figuring out answers to problems. I loved the whole experience that was school and learning.
Education was our family business as well. Both my parents and several aunts and uncles were teachers, and I loved the excitement and buzz that they would express when talking about the beginning of a school year or when they were beginning a new unit of study. Our dinner table was spent sharing what we learned or what we taught that day, and because my parents were amazingly gifted teachers, I had role models of excellence in my house as well as at school. I, like many children, “practiced” this craft in my own make-believe classroom filled with stuffed animals during many hours of my youth.
I can remember the excitement of opening a brand new book and how the spine cracked and how the book had that “new” smell, or how the chalk felt in your hand and the smacking sound it made when you wrote on the chalkboard and how it made me happy. All of those moments were growing my heart to love teaching.
However, I didn’t know it was my desire to be a teacher until I had the opportunity in eleventh grade to be a teacher for a day here and there during my American History class. During that term, students were required to teach one class every marking period around a specific moment or event in history. It was the most fun I had ever had as a student and learned so much not only about the subject matter, but about myself and the power and immense responsibility it is to help others receive knowledge and help them to use it for themselves in a meaningful way. My teachers that year were giving me and my classmates the gift of believing in our abilities as learners to teach ourselves. They became coaches, facilitators, and sounding boards to help us be the experts, and in that, empowered us to not need them as much. And this is the ultimate goal and gift of educators and has stuck with me as a reminder of what my ultimate goal is for my students. I want to enrich them, make them life-long learners, and make me “progressively unnecessary.” —Linda H.
My life as a teacher has never been a job that I just did; instead, teaching is going to school to open the doors for learning, experiencing, and having fun with stuff. It is so rewarding to watch how I have been able to touch young lives, and it is amazing to see how my students in the past will remember me as their “First Grade Teacher.” How gratifying it is to be a part of so many lives! —Margaret R.
Two things stand out for me. First, I always loved getting a “difficult” student. My students were young—8, 9, some 10 years old—and I always, always remembered that kids come into the world as innocents. Their experiences with those around them shape them into who they are, for better or worse. I wanted to be the “better” and give them a positive experience with school and learning. I tried my best to get to know them—and their parents—and always started each day with a positive interaction, no matter what happened the day before. I made it my personal goal to have that child excited to come to school, to like me, and to want to please me. No matter what, a student will not want to learn from someone he/she does not like. I have a lot of students that I remember from teaching—and I can remember all of them with a smile, even the ones that made my days really hard.
Second, I taught in a multi-age classroom. I worked alongside another teacher, and between us we had 40-45 students each year. That’s a lot of kids with a wide range of academic ability, and we had to create a classroom routine where the kids often worked independently or in small cooperative groups. We spent a solid few weeks at the beginning of the year establishing routines and procedures and setting expectations. It was definitely a lot of prep work, but the moment I could stop talking and listen to the kids working with each other, moving through their day smoothly with me just facilitating, was a very happy moment. That, to me, was what teaching was about. —Jen G.
It is my hope to turn this blog into a series. Do you have an inspiring story about a student? Do you want to share why you became a teacher or what you love about your profession? Email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Happy Summer, and thanks in advance!