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5 Reasons Why I Still Love Teaching (Even After 25 Years)

5 Reasons Why I Still Love Teaching (Even After 25 Years)

“Isn’t it true that most schools in the U.S. are failing?” was the question posed to me by a television interviewer after my first book was published.

After a few more interviews, I learned the art of taking nasty, provocative questions and turning them on their head in order to focus on the points I wanted to make.

But at the time I was too angry to give a good response.

It seems that just by opening up any news source, I am guaranteed to come across yet another story about how schools are failing children these days, or how more and more kids just can’t learn, or how parents don’t parent.

Enough negativity! Here are five reasons why I still love teaching, even after 25 years.

1.  Memorable Moments. I can’t think of another profession where each day brings a different set of surprises and small victories. In my French 3 class, after we had struggled with the subjunctive tense for several days, two of my students ad-libbed a skit using the subjunctive, and the whole class “got it.” We were all so excited! Last year, students in my French 2 class were sick of staring at our dull brown walls and suggested that we should do something about it. The following Sunday, six of my students gave up their free time to come to school and paint those walls blue.”You don’t just teach us English, you teach us about life,” Sara, a senior, told me after class one day. Yes, there are plenty of challenges every day in the classroom, but there are also some wonderful, positive moments.

2.  Learning On The Job. Teachers and students are partners, and we learn from each other. As a teacher, I am leading my students in the direction that I choose, but I am also open to their suggestions. My French students were describing their pets last week; when told they could be creative, they came up with hawks, sea lions, polar bears and lizards, to name a few. Pretty soon we had launched into a discussion about where these animals live, and whether it’s fair to animals to keep them as pets. My students just keep on surprising me.

3.  It’s Not A Desk Job. I dislike sitting for too long, and with teaching I don’t have to. I am on my feet most of the time: acting out some new vocabulary or drawing it on the white board; leading the class in a rousing song; or moving around the room to interact with students individually. This might be to encourage them in their work, or maybe to compliment a girl on working well with her neighbor, or to congratulate a football player on the team’s recent win. These are the connections that keep me in the classroom, even after 25 years.

4.  I Have To Play With Technology. No, I’m not talking about cell phones, since I am not one of those teachers who thinks it’s cool to have her students use their phones in class. Instead, they are required to place those cells in a plastic container on my desk at the beginning of class and retrieve them at the end. But I’ve used Edublogs with my students, and we have Skyped with students around the world.  When my school decided to give iPads to all students, I learned how to make them a vital part of class. The best part, of course, is that most students love their technology, so getting them engaged is not a problem. Another plus!

5.  Professional Development. Teachers make awesome colleagues and friends, so the first type of professional development (PD) is simply working with their sharp, creative minds. Thanks to technology, there’s the professional development available via online communities and independent organizations that offer outstanding networking and professional growth potential.
Beyond that, most school administrators encourage or even require, their staff to pursue at least one opportunity for PD outside of the school each year. For the last two days, I have been immersed in a brand-new way to teach languages, together with a group of 30 excited teachers. I’m energized!

 

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47 comments

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8:56PM PST on Nov 22, 2012

After I graduated with a hard science degree(Cell and Molecular Biology), I was recruited by many schools desperate for Math and Science teachers. I declined for many reasons, but most was simply due to the lack of necessary education a child must have to be able to learn even fundamental science. I am talking about reading and math, simple math, add, subtract, multiply and divide. Reading and understanding simple concepts like ocean currents and how they affect the weather. Why the moon shows itself then disappears in steps. What are the 9(now 8) planets and what are some of their features- Mercury vs. Saturn for example. I tutored students as a part time job in college, this was a completely different scenario. These students were dedicated to succeed and had the necessary skill to do the work, just some trouble with the concepts. Kids today barely can read and pretty much hate school and their teachers. Why else are there so many illiterate adults? Why would I want to subject myself to that kind of atmosphere for a living? The only reason why I can imagine is they make the salary of many Ph.D. scientists for 9 months of work. The idea that teachers are poor and underpaid is a complete fallacy. I know. My starting salary poposed in my offer letters from schools was way more than what I was hired for at a major company as a QC Microbiologist.

11:51AM PST on Nov 22, 2012

Thanks

1:37PM PST on Nov 20, 2012

I am studying to be a teacher. I cannot wait to get in the classroom! I truly feel it is my calling. Ever since I could remember I was teaching my cousins, and tutoring other students. This post just reassures me that my future will be bright in education!

11:33AM PST on Nov 19, 2012

I can't say I have ever had a career much less a profession.

7:01AM PST on Nov 19, 2012

Thanks for the great comments! I am heartened to hear from so many teachers who love what they are doing. We need to spread the word!

3:36AM PST on Nov 19, 2012

16 years teaching still love it...

8:21PM PST on Nov 18, 2012

good for you.

5:12PM PST on Nov 17, 2012

Exellent reasons!

3:29PM PST on Nov 17, 2012

I taught for 36 years in the Elementary School and I enjoyed every minute of every day. The students were never the problem in my room. I spent hours before and after school developing what my students needed. I spent my own money if I needed something that the District didn't have and thought nothing of it.

The main problem I saw in schools was the lack of support from the Administration. Many Principal are not doing their jobs. If Principals really evaluated the teachers in their first 3 years the bad nuts would be gone. I had Principals ask me to evaluate other teachers and I always said no.

Still am in contact with some of my students and have watched them and their families grow. Thanks for the job you are doing, Judy.

2:23PM PST on Nov 17, 2012

Being a teacher is caring for the other, on a dimension of one who cultivates a very rare plant that needs attention, love and care.

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