Before I became a teacher, I remember former teachers asking me, “Why would you want to be a teacher?” Or teachers flat out telling me, “Teaching isn’t fun anymore. Don’t do it.” Seriously. I heard these things all the time. It was disheartening. I felt like teaching was my calling. People should be congratulating me, and cheering me on for finding my passion, right? I guess when people told me not to be a teacher, it lit a fire within me, and I wanted to prove to them why I KNEW teaching was what I was meant to do. I hope most future teachers don’t hear these things, but I fear it is more common than not. I want to tell you why, if teaching is your passion, you should never give up.
From a very young age I remember wanting to be a teacher. I honestly can’t remember a time I didn’t want to teach. Decorating bulletin boards, being in charge, planning, and yes, even correcting, are things I fantasized about on a daily basis. I had teachers who were influential in this decision. Like, my fourth grade teacher who smiled each day, and made learning fun. Or my sixth grade teacher who was the most caring and kind person I know. She read our journals every month, and always had the nicest words to write back. Yes, these teachers encouraged me, but teaching was already in me. I don’t know how to describe it other than I was literally born to teach. Cliche, I know.
So, come the fall of 2005. I began my first year at the University of Utah. It wasn’t until two years later that I entered the education program, but my vision never changed. I was going to be an elementary school teacher. Every chance I got I was volunteering in a classroom. Until finally, it was my last year and I was student teaching. This was a year long event, and come to find out, very hard. I wasn’t prepared for many aspects of teaching. For example, classroom management did not come naturally. Yet, I persisted and found what worked for me, and the students. But, isn’t that what we all do? Isn’t it always a learning experience?
Eventually I found my way to a 6th grade classroom in an elementary school. It was perfection. You guys, I LOVED my job. Each day I woke up excited to go to work. That first summer before I started, I remember spending hours shopping for my classroom. From decor, to school supplies, I loved it all. The students were fun to interact with, and I enjoyed their quirky habits and enthusiasm for school.
When I told people I taught 6th grade, their first reaction was usually, “You’re brave.” Like I deserved some badge of honor for getting up each day, to do what I thought was a wonderful career. But you know what? I think accountants deserve a badge of honor. I don’t want to deal with other people’s money. Doctors deserve a badge of honor. I can’t even look when I am given a flu shot. Police officers deserve badges of honor, because they are out protecting us every day. In fact, badges of honor should be given to every single person who gets up in the morning and does their job, and get this, likes it! I am not brave for being a teacher. I am human, for finding something I enjoy doing, and never giving up when faced with problems.
And let me tell you, there are problems in education. Lots of them. From not having enough money to buy tissues for your classroom, to students not wanting to learn and bullying other kids. The fact is though, there are problems in every profession, but at the end of the day, does your career make you happy? Does it make you feel like you are changing the world? Does it make you want to be a better person? If you answer yes to these questions, then please, become (or stay) a teacher! We need good teachers. We need teachers who are passionate about their teaching AND their students. We need teachers who wake up each morning and say, “I can do this.”
So yes, teacher pay can sometimes suck. We deserve more. Yes, our class sizes should be smaller. We could reach each kid easier. Yes, we need less testing. I believe one day less testing will happen. And yes, we need more access to technology, so students can learn the way they live today. However, we NEED teachers who want to teach. We need teachers who can help solve these problems today. We need teachers who will advocate for students, and help us get education where it needs to be. If we don’t have good teachers, changes we need won’t happen.
I guess one of the main reasons I love teaching, is that each day is always different. Every day there is a new plan, a new problem to solve, or something new to learn. I love new beginnings, and I love being a part of something magical. That is teaching to me. I teach because I care. I teach because each day I make a difference. I teach so I can help students find their role in life, I teach to make change, because we desperately need it in our world today!
So, here we are, 5 reasons you SHOULD be a teacher:
#1. Your students need a good role model. You can be that person. Your students need you, just as much as you need them.
#2. You will solve problems each day, whether great or small. No day will ever be the same. You will have the chance to make a difference.
#3. Joy. Honestly, you will see joy every day. From a student learning to read, to another student just happy to be at school. Joy and happiness will be found each day. Not only will you see it, you will feel it, and that will make teaching worth it.
#4. You will have a purpose in your life. Students will be counting on you, parents will be counting on you, and your school will need you. Not only will you have a purpose, but you will be helping the future find theirs.
#5. You will always be learning. You will be the learning leader in your classroom, yet you will be learning yourself. As students see you learning, they will want to as well.