What Do I Like Most about Teaching?

In almost every teacher interview, principals ask teacher candidates what they like most about teaching. At some point within almost all teacher preparation programs, college students are asked a similar question about why they want to teach.  Therefore, teachers should have a go-to answer.

Many years ago, I had an assistant principal who explained what is and the importance of an “elevator pitch.” He stressed the importance of explaining the purpose, student impact, and desired outcomes for our school’s new STEM program in less than 30 seconds. So naturally when I am asked why I love teaching, I should be able to explain so concisely, coherently, and clearly.

But I cannot.

There simply are too many reasons for why I love teaching and why I teach everyday.

I do not believe I am the only teacher who is unable to answer the question of “Why do I teach?” in one simple answer. Samir Rabadi, staff writer for Edutopia, created a slide share of 20 inspiring reasons why teachers love to teach.

 

Teacher preparation programs offer college students helpful ideas for why they should teach. California State University, Chico, offers 10 reasons to teach. It deeply troubles me when college and career advisors offer job security and good work schedules for reasons why someone should become a teacher. While it is true, the teaching profession does have good job security for the foreseeable future, one should really have a passion for education, students, and understanding that teaching is more than clocking in and working. A teacher’s job does not begin and end with the morning and afternoon bell. Like most professionals, teachers take home their work.   When teachers travel on vacation, they see instructional materials and strategies everywhere around them. Teaching is a just a job. It’s a way of life!

So even when comedians like Dave Letterman praise teachers for their outstanding impact and dedication, tongue-in-cheek jokes about the teaching profession cuts me deeply. Many stereotypes are spread through seemingly innocent jokes. His appreciation for Teach for America and celebration of the teaching profession are much appreciated. How about a Top 10 list that actually celebrates teachers as professionals rather than making them out to be haphazard workers?

Therefore, I go to the sources themselves to answer this question. I posted on to my Facebook friends and Twitter followers this question. The answers do not surprise me in the least.   Teachers’ answers for why they love teaching in verbatim as posted on my walls:

  • Sharing student success with students
  • Seeing a student’s face light up when they understand, connect and reflect on something they have been struggling with!
  • When I see a child applying a behavior strategy so they can continue learning.
  • That every day, just like for the kids, is a learning experience. Another day to discover, develop, and grow as a teacher.
  • I love the joy of being with children. Their curiosity and willingness to try new things is infectious.
  • Working directly with children everyday
  • Ah, Ricky, such the NBCT! As a fellow teacher-librarian, I love seeing their growth over the years…into independent-minded young adults, with their own perspectives and opinions that they can now articulate.   I really love seeing them THINK! And if I had a part in that…WOW! It’s like—SWISH!!! ALLLLLL net!

My friends posted similar messages to what Margaret Regan, Teacher and Founder of Martha’s Vineyard Master Teaching Institute wrote for Edutopia. In her post, Teacher Appreciation: Why We Teach, she states that teaching is inherently the “transmission of wisdom from one scholar to another.” Teachers teach to impart knowledge to others. She further describes how teachers arrived at the profession. For me, that will be another blog posting another day. How I became a teacher is important and deserves it’s own post.

For now, I circle back to the original question. What do I like most about teaching? The answers are varied and dependent upon what is happening at that moment of time. I like teaching because I love seeing students learn and become independent. I like teaching because knowing that I have had a lasting impact (hopefully positive) on someone’s life is a wonderful motivator. I like teaching because it is a reward driven profession. Most teachers do not get bonuses, prizes, or other performance-based accolades, but we do get to see the benefit of student understanding. Through appropriate formative assessment, teachers receive immediate feedback of student learning. Student success is also teacher success. The best teachers have a strong sense of empathy and celebrate when students achieve understanding and feel dishearten but not down-and-out when students do not achieve. I like teaching because seeing a student’s “light switch go on” is simply the best!

I am passionate about teaching.

I like teaching because I get to live, work, and excel at my passion.

Day 3 – Differentiated Instruction: Observable Improvement for My Evaluation

Let me get right to it. I need to improve in the area of differentiated instruction. I could make a list of excuses for why I have not moved beyond proficient in this area but that does nothing to improve my teaching practices. Nor does it help me correctly focus my attention.

Much like differentiated instruction improves all student learning, we need to differentiate how we approach this instruction practice for teachers themselves. Differentiated professional development is essential to model quality instruction. But teachers need to take it upon themselves to seek information sources, supportive and challenging peers, and good observable examples for differentiated instruction.

So I am putting myself out there right here and now. I want to hear from other teachers, especially specialists (librarians, art, music, PE teachers, etc.), how you differentiate for student learning.

Also, I am searching online. Edutopia is an excellent go-to source for almost all topics relating to education. I found this remarkable slide share showing 18 strategies for differentiating instruction. Nothing is new or earth shattering. After all the research, professional development, staff meetings, and conversations I’ve had over my career, I will be hard pressed to find some brand new idea around differentiation. But I continue to learn and put into practice what I am learning. Lina Raffelli’s 18 strategies post is excellent and great page to keep handy.

When I look at my observation feedback and evaluation rubric, I always get a gut punch when I look at the differentiation check mark. I know that I am differentiating my instruction. At least, I feel like. Doesn’t that mean it’s happening? Of course it doesn’t. If my observers are looking for it and only find a proficient level of differentiating, I need to improve. I need to grow. I will.

By the way, I know I have an unannounced observation coming up soon. I better be prepared. Not just because I want to rate distinguished on a rubric. I need to do better because, borrowing the phrase from an awesome educators support and inspiration source, my “KIDS DESERVE IT”.