The first week of school has begun. Buses are moving around our communities, picking up children and bringing them to their place of learning. Kindergartner’s to new newly minted 12th graders are stepping into their classrooms and preparing to learn from teachers. There is amazing energy in a school, especially in the first few weeks, with the rush and changes of a new school year. From a teachers viewpoint, it is both energizing and exhausting job with with a high level expectations from both parents, administrators, community members, politicians, and students. These amazing individuals will guide children around the globe during the next ten months. They will plan, and execute everyday to meet the expectations placed upon them by many parties, but mostly by their own set of high expectations on what they want their students to achieve. So why do they do it? What makes them want to teach? Teaching is not glamorous, high paying, or in any way easy. Teaching is a career which tests individual teachers every day, and in ways most of us can not imagine. So why would an individual who has a college degree (most hold Masters degrees), that could be used in a variety of career paths choose to walk into a classroom with 30 children or young teens and work so very hard to provide a quality education?
I wanted to ask teachers this question? Of course they are busy, finding time to answer my questions during the first week of school was in itself overwhelming. However, most teachers you will meet are gracious, kind and generous. Yes, some are overwhelmed, and a few new teachers have a “deer in headlights” look, but most took a few minutes to answer my questions and share insights on why they teach. Here what I found.
Teachers care about children and young teens. The ability to motivate students both academically and personally is part of their inner drive. Teachers have a strong desire to share knowledge and create wisdom. To share and open horizons to young people is one of the most important goals for teachers. Educators are motivated by creating success, even a small success, can be a big moment for a child and the teacher. Teachers teach for the “aha” or “lightbulb” moment; the look on a child’s face when they “get it”, the smile of success, and the moment the students struggle becomes a passion. Many teacher feel that teaching was their calling, though sometimes frustrated and overwhelmed, they know when they step into the classroom, this is where they shine and feel personal pride in what they and their students achieve.
Being a teacher is a challenge, but it can also be fun. One teacher shared that in the space of an hour, she can get laughed at for telling a corny joke, teach how a new math technique flows from their previous knowledge, and get kids enthusiastic about a bonus lesson (with math!), help kids who don’t get it, get it, and have time for a fun game activity that has them laughing and learning. It is like being a game show host and everybody wins!
Teachers love the challenge, the ability to create their own classroom environment, and not sit in office or punch a time clock. You get to move around and create, you get to be interactive. The classroom is your stage, and you get to be a director, producer, and sometimes the star actor. Teaching is never boring, there is always; something to learn, to do, or to share.
. There were teachers that shared that their own parents had been teachers, and watching them change lives of children motivated them to themselves follow them into this noble profession. Teachers answered that their kids’ energy and their inquisitiveness inspires them daily. Almost every teacher stated that student success was their goal, their hope, and what drove them to find a new approach, seek a new lesson idea, or stay up nights wondering how to make a difference.
This is why they teach. They answered my question and made me think back to the incredible teachers who helped mold my life. This is how teachers help to make the world a better place and each of us better people.
Thank you teachers for your commitment to young people and their education. May your school year be full of success and the knowledge that you matter to the kids you teach. Maybe a past student will pop into your classroom this year and tell you how you helped to make a difference in their lives. I think I will look up a few teachers this year, and write a thank you note, it is the very least I can do for all they were willing to do for me.