Why do I teach?

Installment #10:

I teach to keep learning.

Teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin. One cannot teach, without learning.

No year is the same. No group of students are the same. No lesson plan is perfect.

Each year poses its own set of challenges, and learning. Each set of students poses its own dynamic that requires an adjustment, new planning, possibly new forums and materials. No lesson plan ever goes exactly as planned.

This can appear frustrating, but it’s also a bit liberating. If I mess up, there’s always the next lesson, tomorrow, next year. Teaching is a profession with constant opportunity for personal and professional growth–and for that, I stay in education.

Photo by tribesh kayastha on Unsplash

Why do I teach?

Installment #9:

I teach because I get to read.

I’m an avid reader. If I wasn’t a teacher, I would still read; however, it is thanks to teaching that I have continued reading and discovering the very best children’s books, picture books, and young adult books.

It is through, and thanks, to my work, that the whole realm of possibility was never shut down or shut away. It is through, and thanks, to my work that I am the best aunt, the best friend, the best neighbor, the best (insert anyone) giving out books at parties or making book recommendations for kids–or at least I consider myself that 😜

Today, I must admit that one of the best reasons, one of the reasons to keep teaching, is getting access to the latest and greatest books.

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Why do I teach?

Installment #8:

I teach because I can, and do, make an impact–even when I doubt it, even when I don’t see it; I make an impact.

I started teaching in 2007; I was a kindergarten teacher. I didn’t think I would make a career in K-12 education, I thought this was a stepping stone to my ultimate goal: a professor at a university.

I had heard from lifelong teachers about seeing, meeting, and watching their students graduate high school, even college. I had heard from lifelong teachers who taught a student and then, eventually, taught that student’s children. It seemed magical and incredibly distant. I talked about the future with my kiddos, I imagined it, but I didn’t think I would be a part of it–not truly. It was just a wish. Not to mention I was in kindergarten–I had a long wait ahead of me!

Whelp, it’s 2020, and guess what? My first group of students, my little kindergarteners, are graduating high school. It had dawned on me in a conversation with a friend recently and I was stunned–how did I get so old? That much time had passed?

And just as I had come to terms with this realization and began to fancifully dream of what my former students looked like, what they were like, where they were going, and all kinds of hopeful thoughts and thoughts about the future, all of that saturating my mind, a former student contacted me and invited me to their graduation in May!

As soon as I saw the name and the invitation, I was overwhelmed with emotion. It was more than an invite or a thought, it was this feeling that after all this time, I was one of those teachers–the kind you want to keep sharing achievements with, the kind you remembered, and that’s what makes teaching all the more special, all the more powerful, all the more important.

When someone chooses teaching, they choose to become a role model, a mentor, an adviser, and so much more–and in this way, they choose to make an impact in the development and lives of people. It’s an incredible opportunity to do good, and in this way, it’s why so many people choose teaching.

Why do I teach?

Installment #7:

I teach because I am creative.

I enjoy creative outlets and pursuits. I like to draw, write, color, bake, and paint. I can spend hours on Pinterest looking for imaginative ways to decorate any space. I enjoy making things colorful–bulletin boards, poster boards, banners, etc. I relish any task that provides creative leeway.

Teaching a standard doesn’t have to limited by a curriculum. A curriculum is a guide. Teaching is not limited to a standardized calendar of events and deadlines. Learning is not linear, nor is it steady.

Teaching does have limits. There are specific standards to teach, deadlines to meet, and tests to be taken. Nevertheless, teaching does allow for quite a bit of creativity.

I can read a single book, or many books. I can add books to a specific unit. I can teach the standard algorithm or a number of other methodologies. I can come back to a standard or leave it behind. I can reteach with a book or a project. I can revisit a standard today, tomorrow, and next week. I can provide a song to help my aural learners, a poster to help my visual learners, a dance to help my kinesthetic learners. Whatever I do, whatever I choose to add to augment, accelerate, or assist the learning experience is a creative endeavor. And these creative opportunities are beautiful. Teaching is a creative profession, and for that I will always be grateful.

 

Why do I teach?

Installment #6:

I teach for the steps.

This is silly, selfish, and not entirely true when I started teaching, but teaching is active; so, now I say I teach for the steps.

I have done the office job and I have been in a classroom. Classrooms create plenty of opportunity to burn calories. Sure, my candy drawer also gets used more, so I am consuming more calories. Nevertheless, a classroom position is an active role.

I walk as I teach. I walk from student to student. I walk from desk to desk. I stand up, I sit down, I stand up, I sit down. I sprint to the bathroom and back. I take kids out to recess. I play at recess. I walk around at recess. I take my students to the cafeteria, to specials, to line-up, to dismissal–and back. I monitor work by walking around the classroom. I monitor testing by walking around the classroom. I go from one meeting to the next, from one classroom to the next, from one end of the school to the other end.

My feet are tired, but by the time I get home I can safely look at my steps app and know I got all my steps for the day. One less thing to worry about–and that is definitely a perk, maybe even a reason, to teach πŸ˜‰

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