Teaching is one of those careers where everything thinks they’re an expert. Hey, we’ve all been to school, we know all about education and have an opinion about it. All teachers have been there. You know, when you tell someone you’re a teacher, and they respond with something cliché like, “Wow, I could never do that!” “Thank you so much for all the hard work you do,” (I actually do love that one…please keep thanking us for educating your children, we don’t hear it enough), or “If I were a teacher, I would…” and my absolute favorite, “it must be nice to get the summer off.” (I hope you can sense the oozing sarcasm there). Despite all of this, there are several reasons I continue to teach.
I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I remember hanging out in my grandparents’ basement, teaching my little brother his times tables, and sitting on my porch swing, reading Baby-Sitters Little Sister books to my invisible class. As a kid, we often idealize things, and I definitely romanticized teaching. It wasn’t until student teaching that I questioned my choice. What had I gotten myself into? Who knew it was this hard? Who knew it was this much work? Teachers knew. There have been several times that I’ve said I was quitting. I know I’m not alone here. A lot of people consider leaving the profession, many actually bolt. For some reason, I keep getting pulled back in. I just think teaching is in my blood. I can’t shake it. Who’s with me? Here are the top three reasons I decided to teach in the first place.
1. I love school
I was that kid that looked forward to going to school in the morning. Especially high school. I loved that I got to see my friends all day (which I still get to do as a teacher!) and got to run cross country and track & field after school. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t the best student, procrastination got the best of me sometimes. But, I did well, and some pretty good colleges accepted me. And really, school was an escape for me. Things weren’t always good at home, and I knew that I didn’t have to think about any of those things when I was at school. So, when I was considering what to be when I grew up, I thought, why not stay at school?!
2. I love history
Any history nerds here? I am a self-proclaimed history nerd. Ok, it’s not only self-proclaimed. Others have declared it for me too. I love to read books on my favorite historical topics, travel to see historical sites and museums, go to lectures, watch documentaries, etc. At the end of the day, what else was I supposed to be? There aren’t many options for people who are interested in history that pay well (at least, none that I know of), so I thought being a teacher would be a great way to share my love of history.
3. I love making a positive impact on teenagers
As annoying as teenagers can be, I sure do love them. I think they are great! Granted, I don’t have any of my own, so it’s easier to say that. But, I enjoy that they are developing opinions and can tackle complex concepts. I also like being able to make a difference in their lives. Don’t get me wrong, it often doesn’t feel like I’m making a difference. Dealing with teenagers all day can be a real challenge. But it’s the times that they let you know how much you made a difference in their lives that keeps me going. Remember, you might be the only stable person in their lives. I also try to remember that and be as positive and supportive as I can be with them. My students are absolutely one of the reasons I continue to teach.
Like I said, there have been MANY times I’ve considered leaving teaching. I even quit for an entire year once. Now, I’ve made the choice to stay in the profession. There are so many fantastic aspects of the career. Unfortunately, many of us focus on the negative parts. It tough to choose to be positive, but it’s a choice I consciously make daily. I encourage you to do so too. As I said, some things keep pulling me back to the profession. Here are some of the reasons I still teach.
1. I am an outstanding teacher
I’m not saying this to brag. I think that as women, we are taught not to be bold in our belief in ourselves. Also, society taught us to be overly humble and meek. Welp, I’ll tell you, I’m very confident in my teaching abilities, and I have the proof to back it up. I hope that by me saying this, you will feel freer to be proud of yourself and your abilities. I have worked extremely hard to be the best teacher I can be (as I’m sure you have too!), and I know that hard work has paid off. Let’s face it, we all struggle sometimes, so I try to keep in mind that I have a lot to offer to my students and my school. But reminding myself that I know what I’m doing helps me stay positive and stay in the profession.
2. It’s rarely boring
There is rarely a dull moment in teaching. First of all, you don’t teach the same thing every day. Also, if you teach high school, you have 100+ students with 100+ different personalities to navigate. Are there times that I’m bored? Sure. But it doesn’t happen often, and I always have really great stories to tell my friends and family. The profession is challenging and keeps me on my toes. Sometimes I think about having an office job, and I immediately snap myself out of it. I’d probably be bored to tears.
3. Personal & Professional Growth
Finally, there are tons of opportunities for personal and professional growth. We all know teachers don’t go into the profession for the money. We become teachers because we want to help people, and helping people can be a thankless job. This is why personal and professional growth is crazy important. It helps keep us from compassion fatigue. It also teaches us social skills that many people don’t have. There are also countless opportunities for professional development (though it can be expensive), which helps us become better teachers.
4. The schedule is AWESOME
Now, this is the one that gets non-teachers into a tizzy. It’s the response that annoys me the most. “You get the summers off.” First of all, everyone knows teachers get the summers off, if you wanted summers off, you should’ve become a teacher. Now, I know I’m a little blunter than most people, but teachers, you know you’ve thought this a million times. I truly believe that breaks are for teachers, not students. We genuinely do 12 months of work in 9 months. Also, many of us work during the summer to make extra money. Frankly, one of the reasons I haven’t changed careers is because I want a teaching schedule. As I get older, I value my time more than money. A job would have to pay me A LOT more money for me to give up my vacation time.
I love teaching, and sometimes I need to remind myself why I started and why I stay. Whether I decide to retire at 20 years or 37.5 years, I want to continue to love this profession and the critical work we all do as teachers.
Whats the Teach Hungry Movement? Click here to find out more!
Want to read more? Click here for more blog posts!
Your turn! Tell me, why did you become and teacher, and what are the reasons to stick around and teach?