I have been teaching 21 years and for nearly every day of those 21 years, I have loved what I do. It’s all about the kids. They need me. They need good teachers who want to help them learn. Sure, I could do something else with my Ivy League education and make more money, but when all is said and done, I teach because I get more from it than money. I truly enjoy what I do.
Yes, teachers are underpaid and overworked! But we all can complain about our jobs. The difference is my job gives back to me. I teach High School. Many cringe when I tell them that. But I wouldn’t teach any other group. All of my students come to me with needs. Some need attention, some need discipline, some need acceptance, but they all come needing to learn something new. I am paid to teach them something new and they are required to learn my subject so that they can graduate; but somewhere along the way, I give them more: I give them a little bit of me. I am one of those strict teachers who runs my class like a little military camp and while they complain at first, they also find that they love it. They love it because I care enough to expect excellence from each and every one of MY kids. And that is the crux of it, they are MY kids. I take them to me as if they are my own…
I communicate to my students that I believe in them and expect them to achieve. I demand excellence from them and while they don’t all excel, they all improve. And I take solace and satisfaction in knowing that I have impacted the mind and heart of a child. I use my classroom to impart not only knowledge of my content, but wisdom and confidence. I strive to have these kids leave me, being stronger than they were when they met me. Discipline is at the core of good teaching; if your class is unstructured, you will have mayhem; but if you can get your kids to behave, then you have a captive audience, and from there, you can achieve many things. Many teachers try to be kids’ friends, but you need to be seen as an authority figure, not their peer. They have enough peers. But once you have their respect and attention, then the magic happens, the real learning: where they look forward to YOUR class; because your class is they place that inspires them.
You have to know your content and you have to be seen as fair and consistent, you have to genuinely care about them and demand greatness from them. When all of these factors are in place, kids will give you what you want, regardless of ability or socioeconomic background. This is what makes teaching so amazing; it is seeing the results: the boost in confidence and ability. Kids give the love they see reflected. You don’t have to gush affection, but you do have to care and have high expectations; kids give you what you expect and demand. And because you believe in them, they appreciate you; and respond in kind. I could be making more money doing something else, but it is unlikely that I would get the satisfaction that I do every day. My students are phenomenal and I let them know it, and they blossom, coming back to me every year, to say thanks. How many other jobs give that kind of recognition? Teaching is not for the faint of heart, but it is for the strong. I love teaching because I get to make the world a little better, one child at a time… What’s there not to love?