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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