Four years ago, I entered the field of education as a Math Lab assistant at South Knoll Elementary. I soon began working to get certified to teach because I recognized that I loved teaching and I wanted to make a difference.
Three years ago, I walked into the first classroom that was my OWN. Today, and three classrooms later, I am completing the first six weeks of my fourth year, I am enrolled in the just-past-halfway course in pursuit of my Masters in Administration, and I am taking part in several leadership courses that are designed to inspire and foster innovation, including the IMMOOC and the newly minted CSISD Dream Team.
At the first meeting for the Dream Team, a sort of district think tank/innovators gathering, we saw a video that made the rounds a great deal over the last few years by Simon Sinek about the importance of finding your "why."
Two years ago, our district challenged us to find our "why" and as a result, I wrote the following at the start of my second year of teaching. Some things have changed. I no longer teach history, I teach debate and sociology along with psychology. I would also like to add a few things, and so they are in there, in bold. But the message is the same, my heart is the same- only more committed to this "job" called teaching. The last four years have been some of the most fulfilling in my life, and it makes dealing with all the junk that often comes with education worth it.
I teach because I come from a family of teachers, and I married one. They seem like great people.
I teach because my high school AP English teacher, Jack Nims, taught me that the right answer is not always the best answer. He taught me how to think, not just how to regurgitate information.
I teach because the more I teach, the more I want to learn. Just when I think I know all I can about a subject, a little breadcrumb promise of something more is dropped, and I chase it down, hungry for more.
I teach because I have seen the difference an adult can make in a child if they just pay attention. I have seen the faces of parents who were just thankful I took the time to appreciate their child for who they are, and the face of a student who saw an adult besides their parent care. I teach for those that have been missed.
I teach because teenagers today impact our culture more than even they know, and I want to point them in the way that makes them the best they can be. I hate the phrase "Children are our future." They aren't. They are our now. They are shaping our music, our worldviews, our technology, our approach to life, etc. Sometimes it is beautiful. Sometimes it is terrifying. Students need teachers that do not seek to make them better people- that would be social engineering. Teachers should guide and encourage students to find who they are. I teach to point students to find the best person they can be.
I teach history because I love to tell stories. I teach psychology because I love to try to figure out the way people tick. I teach them both because the stories of history and understanding people are my favorite way to point students toward that "best person they can be." I teach debate because our students need to know how to win arguments with class, and lose with dignity. I teach sociology because we need to be able to understand each other better, now more than ever. I teach these classes because students are learning lifelong skills that shape them- and the world around them- as human beings.
I teach because the moment of understanding is the most intoxicating thing there is on Earth. Whether you teach Math, Science, English, Art, Football, Foreign Language, Social Studies, Philosophy, or Theology - the moment a student's face lights up with recognition or irreverently shouts out that they "Got it!," is the best feeling there is. I teach because I am addicted to those moments, and want more and more.
I teach because I want my students to know I see them as people, and I care about them succeeding not because it makes me look good, but because it makes them stronger and smarter people. I teach because I like my students- all of them.
I teach because I am addicted to creativity. I love to build new things, both physically and in theory. I love to shape bland cinderblock walls into coffeehouse classes not so I can have the coolest classroom (which I think I do) but because it creates a place that student WANT to come to and engage and grow and learn.
I teach because I want to share not just with students, but with fellow educators about ways we can learn and grow- not unlike our students.
I teach because teachers matter. I teach because they are needed. I teach because they are on the front lines of making a difference in the lives of millions. I teach because I want to be a part of something that truly, positively affects the world.
I teach because it is- So. Much. Fun.