Today’s blog prompt is “Why do you teach?”. How do you sum up a multitude of reasons, emotions, and experiences in a short blog post? I like to call myself an educator, rather than a teacher, because I am also an administrator – hence the title of my post.
I became a teacher because I loved to work with kids. I get how cliche that is. And we had college professors who drilled into us to never answer that way in an interview. But what if it’s true? Add to that, the cliche that my mom was a teacher. And this part is going to sound really bad…I grew up in a small town, attended a small-town high school, and really wasn’t aware of the different opportunities and possibilities available to me. Even so, I do not regret my decisions to become a teacher. I still love working with kids.
I get to work with these adorable K-2nd grade ELL students right now. The kindergartners melt my heart every day. I can see them processing the language as they try to correctly form sentences just in their basic conversation with me. I am not sure that I have ever witnessed the learning experience so explicitly, and so self-driven than right now. That is why I teach.
Before this, I spent some time subbing in a fifth grade classroom while the teacher was on maternity leave. I had a student in there who was happiest to spend most of his time drawing. As my time there progressed, he became more involved. The fun part was having him tell me how much he was liking school (because he got to research President Lincoln and write a biography, he enjoyed decimals in math, and was digging the American Revolution during social studies). The things he was getting excited about were not that exciting to me, but apparently I was engaging him in the learning. That is why I teach.
I go to church (or the grocery store, ball diamond, library…) and see students I used to teach. I get huge smiles and hugs from them. I really like smiles and hugs. That is why I teach.
I love to learn. I enjoy reading articles, attending conferences, and mostly, collaborating with like-minded professionals. I get excited to share what I learn with others. Each of these learning methods is different (reading, listening, discussing). I could add that I also like to explore new technology resources and devices to see how they will make my life easier/better/more efficient, and share that with others. So, with that method, I am learning by doing. What I want to learn (and how I want to learn it) will differ from my colleagues. Our students are the same way. I am a strong believer in personalized learning. I advocate for differentiation so all of our students can experience the most growth, and the most enjoyment in the process. This is why I teach.
Over my seventeen years as an educator, I have seen many changes. Not all of these have been improvements, but I would wager that most have been. I have changed as a learner and educator, as well, during this time. I’m in favor of assessments – as long as formative assessments in a variety of ways are utilized to drive instruction and teacher reflection. I’m in favor of teacher (and administrator!) accountability – as long as it’s not based on a single standardized test. I’m in favor of the Common Core standards (even though IN went their own way) – as long as politics aren’t a driving factor. I’m in favor of technology integration – as long as learning is the force and tech is just a resource. Changes for the benefit of our youth is why I teach.
I believe in education, because I know we are making a difference. We (educators) spend more time with children than any other adult in their lives. I want to be a positive influence, an encouraging presence, and make a lasting impact on their lives. Because that’s what they do for me.
And that is why I teach.