Tweet This

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why do You Teach?


I believe this quote sums up how I feel.

As I get ready to rejoin the public education system.  It has not been without some fears or hesitations.  I am a strong believer in student relationships and connections.  I have found the more I foster these relationships and connections no matter how small, I and my subject matter come to life for my students.  Am I alone?  In my time in public education, I have found it is the small things that matter.  Small conversations, welcoming your class, a hand shake and a proper saluation.  Having solid procedures and a good management philosphy are the coor of a great class, to me, but always remember, Respect goes both ways.  We should respect our students as we would like them to respect us.  So why do I bring this up, because, 

1.  I'm nervous, interviews and such.
2.  What if I lost my touch?
3.  I feel I am connected and qualified enough to be able to say I do not feel I am so much the intervewed as the interviewer.  I have worked in three, yes three school districts and I know what I am looking for and what it takes to help make a teacher successful, a well supported open community of eductors and administators.  A great school philosophy and mentality and a love of authentic, 21st century learning... AND

4. I recently came across a great post, Young People Don't Be Afraid To Become a Teacher, and it was very potent.  I love that the author stands by her convictions that are the reasons why I know I am a teacher and need to teach:

We need great teachers in public schools.  Don't be shy until you try.

Teaching can bring incomparable joy, Nothing I have done has brought me as much joy.
I can honestly say that when teaching public school there was never a time when I didn't want to go to work, I enjoy spending hours online to jazz up a lesson and provide visual resources and paths other than me, and that the spark of a students interest is immeasurable to me.  My five years, like the author has made me grow and has brought me great joy.

It truly took my year off to pursue Higher Ed that has shown me, I am happiest in the classroom and yes, ages are important.  I love and miss middle and high school but I would have never found out how rewarding everyday was until teaching higher ed.  This was the year I found me, and I am a teacher.  I believe in relationships, cooperation, collaboration, connectivism and I love the varied challenges that stem from teaching teenager's.  I love being a guide and a mentor.  I am blessed I have had this change to reflect and figure out what type of teacher I am.  Sometimes we as teachers need to find our place and I am solid in knowing my place is with the confused and hormonal, call me crazy.  Many have.

Sadly enough, so yes, while many of the pitfalls noted in Randy Turner's post, Young People, dont become a teacher, are very very true.  Sometimes, you just don't fit.  Admistration and lack of discipline can be difficult at times, horrifying at others, I swear it is still worth it.  Administration can be appeased, look to the student and not the test and the test will improve. Difficult students are just that difficult, but why are they difficult, are you williing to take on the challenge of trying to crack this student, spark an interest, show them that someone cares?  

I won't lie, it doesn't always work and if you do not feel supported to remove a student or administer consequences then you are probably going to have a really bad quarter or year, BUT, you might make a connection and make the difficult student your "peer tutor" allowing them to get up and help (ok talk), it's possible.  

While teaching is not always cherry's and can be difficult and darn right exhausting, for those of us who thrive to make a difference, it is those one or two or fifty sparks and joys received from being an educator, the look on a a students face when they finally get it, sharing knowledge and preparing, contributing to a student's growth that is worth every underpaid or unappreciated moment.  So, I'll ask again, Why do you teach?  Love comments!!

1 comment:

  1. You know, I thought answering this question would be easy, but it's not. I know that I love teaching philosophy (higher ed) above anything else about being a philosopher, but articulating why is hard.

    Teaching got me through my PhD program. Several times I was going to quit, and I said to myself: okay, I'll just try being a TA and see if I like it. I did. Then: Okay, I'll just try teaching my own classes and see if I like it. I did. And I managed to finish the program.

    Then, I got two job offers after grad school: one that would have led me down the path of research, and one that led me down the path of focusing on teaching (a teaching job). I chose the latter, because I knew that's what I loved to do. And I moved from there into another teaching-focused position, where I expect I'll stay forever.

    But WHAT do I love about teaching? All the things you mention above, yes. And also some more selfish stuff: I love reading and thinking about and talking about philosophy, and I get to do that over and over, every day, with new people who have such great things to say about it. I love talking about this stuff with people for whom it is new, especially (first-year students), for some reason. I think it's because they really see it with fresh eyes, and this gives them such an interesting perspective on the ideas. They relate it more to their everyday lives, which is when I think philosophy is most interesting. I also learn a LOT by reading, re-reading, re-thinking about the same texts over and over. It's like being in university myself, all the time. I feel I'm really understanding things so much better by teaching them.

    I hate to just focus on the stuff I get out of teaching for myself like this, but you've done a great job of pointing out the other great things too. I, also, love watching students grow, struggle with things and then work them out on their own. Why is that so great? Because you know if they can become self-sufficient like that, they are going to do so much better in their lives. That's what I struggle with most as a teacher--not leading too much, but hanging back and letting them figure things out. That's hard to do.

    Thanks for providing a space and an excuse to reflect on why I teach!

    ReplyDelete