Why do I teach? I had a teacher in high school, Mr. Vierra, who inspired me, believed in me and encouraged me to do anything I wanted to do. At that time I knew I wanted to be just like Mr. Vierra. I grew up relatively poor and education was never a priority in my house and as such I was an average student. Without the encouragement of a great teacher I'm not sure where I would be today. Therefore, I teach because I want to inspire young people to break through the barriers and reach their potential as people. Over the years it's not only young people but everyone in education and beyond who I desire to help.
There is no greater feeling than seeing someone smile and get excited about something I have shown them or taught them. My satisfaction comes from their success and happiness. That is why I teach!
What a good idea to ask this Shawn!
Why do I teach? I could give a flippant answer and say that I'm genetically predisposed to teaching. (6th generation educator, thank you very much!) I didn't intend to teach, but somewhere in college as I very patiently sat tutoring roommates in their required American Heritage class, I realized that there was something satisfying about helping others learn. And then I met Dr. Frank W. Fox who was recognized as one of BYU's 10 best professors of the century. As an undergrad I taught under Dr. Fox for 3 years. During this time, I became aware of how differently he taught. He had a full time media person whose sole responsibility was to tape video to illustrate key points in his lectures. (Yes this was before YouTube) He played Wheel of Wants to demonstrate the concept of scarcity, and arranged to have a group of students pose as Angry Farmers (complete with overalls, plaid shirts, pitchforks, and corn tortillas) to interrupt a lecture hall of 1000 at the critical point he was discussing Shay's Rebellion.
Dr. Fox also made sure we addressed the hard issues--how does an America that produces Abraham Lincoln also produce Roy Bryant, the man who murdered Emmett Till? Does America have a unique place in the annals of history, or is this a part of a cultural myth we've created? And what are our obligations as citizens of a country--citizens of the human race?
Asking important questions is a vital part of why I teach. I fear if the really significant questions go unasked, do students today have the opportunity to formulate an opinion about their place in the world? Can they make meaning from an increasingly large stream of information? I am always so appreciative of teachers, like Dr. Fox, who inspire students to grapple with the hard questions of a bygone era or the conflicting moralities of current events.
Currently I am not teaching students, but trying to help teachers transition their own teaching. I would love to replicate the same enthusiasm and craftsmanship I find from my colleagues on Twitter into the brick and mortar reality that is my school. It is always so disheartening to hear adults tell me how they loathed learning about history until well after they recovered from the horrors of their high school history class. Teachers have such an opportunity to influence lives. I hope to be able to help others teach differently enough to captivate and inspire future generations.
I was pulled into teaching kicking and screaming...and discovered that I absolutely loved it. In graduate school I had my tuition paid for and in return served as a teaching assistant. It scared the crap out of me. It was the thing I most feared going into my graduate school experience. By the end of my 1st trimester it was absolutely the thing I enjoyed most. I never would have predicted how much fun it would be for me. Working with my students, seeing them get excited about ideas...nothing beats that. My family gives me a hard time for never turning the "teacher" part of me off. I'm always reading about it, thinking about it, seeing things that inspire me to try new things in my classroom that I think will empower and inspire my students...but that's why I teach. It is so much fun to think about how I can help my students discover their passions the way that I have discovered - quite by accident - mine.
So the answer to your question is this: because I freakin' love it!
Agreed, great question!
My initial desire to become a teacher was sparked when I was just five years old, coming home and declaring that I wanted to be just like my kindergarten teacher - Mrs. Mills (this was a relief to my parents, as in the days before I had announced my dream was to serve french fries at McDonalds). I carried this dream throughout high school and university - never once looking back or taking the time to consider an alternative career. Teaching isn't so much a choice for me, but rather a calling. Something in my heart has told me for a long time that this is where I need to be.
Teachers teach who they are. Teachers are listeners, we are patience, and understanding. We are optimistic, we believe, we support, we represent stability, and we don't give up. We are the things, I am the things, that so many youth need in their daily life. I teach because I believe the world needs more teachers who care, want to inspire, and want to make a difference - and I am committed to being a part of that goal and making the sacrifices necessary to achieve it. I teach because it is the only thing that makes sense to me. I teach because it is what makes my heart happy, I teach because I like challenges, and I teach because I am curious and want to learn. I teach because it is who I am.