Why Teach

Teaching is a very noble and honorable profession.  It is a profession for individuals who have a love for education and wish to share this passion with others.  Each person comes from a different background and can bring various qualities into the classroom.  Becoming a teacher for any age will take patience, knowledge, understanding, flexibility and perseverance, but at the end of the day it is one of the most rewarding jobs possible!

should i become a teacher

Change a life

Many children come to school longing for a relationship with an adult.  They are seeking approval and to feel like they really matter.  Regardless of the reason some children are not receiving the love and attention they need at home.  This is the opportunity for a teacher to step in as a friend and/or a mentor.  This does not mean you are supposed to give a student all the answers from a test or always call on them to be the leader.  Children, and adults, perform better with some type of structure, expectations and rules.

There are many teachers that I looked up to throughout school and I can honestly say I am in a better place because of them.  They may not know what an influence they had on me, but I was always watching and listening.  Here is a true story of myself as a mentor.    

When I was in school to be a teacher I was required to conduct various types of teaching experiences.  My first assignment was one-on-one tutoring and I was sent to a refugee center to tutor an elementary age child.  The little girl I was assigned to teach had extreme disciplinary issues and did not want to spend her extra time on schoolwork.  Slowly we got to know each other.  She had a life I was not accustomed to nor she did not understand me.  She was very shy and excited at the same time.

I slowly learned she needed much more from me than an academic education.  During one of our first meetings I informally assessed her in reading, math and comprehension.  This was all very difficult for her and she was low in all areas.  I later found out she was repeating the third grade and that was not the first grade she had repeated.  I did not even know that was possible.  As I began to create her lessons I left lots of room for conversation and questions.  The best way for her to succeed is to feel confident and to start filling the learning gaps in her education.  We started from the beginning.  She started reading kindergarten books and moved her way up.  I gave her little assessments along the way and rewarded her with her favorite treats.

Students need love

 

Throughout the months it became obvious she was in need of the common necessities of life.  We discussed common courtesy, manners and her life at home  Before each session I always brought her lunch because she was always hungry.  No one can learn when they are hungry.  

She had experienced much loss and tragedy in her short life.  Sometimes I just showed up with snacks and we watched a movie.  She needed my trust and friendship.  She never knew which bed she would sleep in because there were so many people in her house they had to rotate.  With this information I rushed to the director with concern, but she explained this is quite common in her neighborhood.

By the time my required teaching was up I felt my little friend had made great improvement academically, but most of all she had a new sense of pride and confidence.  During our time together I tried to teach her how to ask questions, how to take tests, how to study and any other tips I could to make her school year a little easier.  The director explained to me that my student had begun to ask to come to the center every day since I started tutoring her.  She said I had become her mentor and given her love when she felt none.

My little friend will never know, but she changed the way I thought about teaching and the way I treat students today.  She changed my life.  Learning cannot take place unless a child’s basic needs are met.  Children need to feel loved and appreciated.  They need to trust their teacher.  Along with these emotional needs I now quickly assess children to find confirmation that they are fed, clothed and feel safe.  When I see all of those necessities are there or being addressed my teaching can begin.

Teach to change a life.  Maybe there was a teacher in your schooling that impacted your life.  Some people become teachers because they like math or history and wish to share it with others.  That is a wonderful reason to become a teacher, but lives are changed if you want them to or not.  Be that change.
Remember children are always watching, listening and imitating.  Be the person you want your students to be.

Do you have the gift of teaching children?

There are people who can walk into a room and children are drawn to them.  Whether it’s their friendly smile or calm presence there is something about them that causes children to be comfortable in their presence.  If this describes you, you might have the gift of teaching preschool and elementary age children.

Wearing multiple hats

cute kids wearing hats

A child spends most of their Monday through Friday awake hours in the classroom.  Like it or not that teacher must take on the role of teacher, parent and friend.  The teacher is able to see friendships being made along with good and make choices.  It is the teacher’s job to guide the process of these growing milestones.

Parents are counting on you to be a teacher and role model for their child in their absence.  Child development doesn’t just happen a home.  This is a huge responsibility for a teacher but at the same time it’s exciting to make an impact on a child.

Loving

If you ever sit in the teacher’s lunch room or listen in during a teacher’s grade level meeting you can hear the teacher’s reference the students as their kids.  If you listen even closer when they discuss a particular child you will hear speak as if it’s their own child.

Statements such as: “He doesn’t have time to do his homework after football practice during the fall.” ” She cannot take that test after lunch because he attention span is gone for the rest of the day.”  These are statements of a teacher who loves their students.

There are students who leave an impression on your heart and you will never forget.  Loving your students is important because it causes you to treat them as they were your own.

Patient

Patience must be practiced daily.  There are teachers out there that do not practice patience nor do they wish to practice it in their classroom.  Students shut down and learning has come to a stop when children feel their teacher does not have patience for them.  A gifted teacher has the ability to not get angry or frustrated when a mistake or lack of understanding takes place.

Sometimes a student will not understand the concept of subtraction until you explain it 100 times.  Maybe they needed to hear it 100 different ways.  The job of a teacher is to figure out how to explain a concept that each particular child understands it.  It might be exhausting, but it is for the love of the child and teaching that the teacher pushes on to find what works.  This is a test of patience.

The average person would want to say “Are you listening?  I have told you 99 times how subtractions works!  Why do you not get it?”

A patient teacher will respond differently.  This is a characteristic few people hold, but it can be acquired.  

Understanding

Teachers spend many hours of planning and preparation to teach an engaging lesson with the attempt to reach every child.  It can be frustrating when you put so much time and effort into a lesson and a student or a group of students do not receive it.  This is the moment when the teacher wants to children to understand how much went into this lesson.  Unfortunately, the students will never understand.

Everyone wants to be understood and children are not any different.  It is important for the teacher to model compassion and importance to try to understand others feelings or their point of view.  Many children live in difficult situations outside of school or are forced to deal with adult decisions outside of the classroom.  Many of these scenarios or lifestyles are not something they wish to talk about.  This is where they depend on their teacher for patience and understanding.        

Productive Disciplinarian

It is critical for the teacher to create and mandate the rules in the classroom.  In order for groups of children to coexist in one classroom or one school together simple rules of order must be understood and enforced.  The rules must be taught all year long.

Since the beginning of time rules have been tested, forgotten or simply ignored.  For example, a person might push the speed limit if the police are nowhere in sight.  Also, a student might ignore the “no running in the hallway” rule if they are walking the hall alone.  The police are in charge of keeping our communities compliant to the rules and regulations of the land.  It is the responsibility of the teacher to enforce the rules of the classroom.   

A true gift of teaching is the ability to teach your students about the rules in a way they hold each other accountable.  Rule following is a life lesson.  It is a true gift if a teacher can instill the moral importance of rules early on.

Excellent Communicator

Communication is a key trait of any teacher.  There is a constant need of communication between the students and the teacher.  Sometimes there is daily, weekly or monthly correspondence between parents and the teacher.  Often there is communication between the teacher and other counselors or support teachers.  Also, teachers meet regularly to plan or communicate important information.  The teacher must communicate data and updates to the administration to show progress of the students they are teaching.  This is a lot of conversations between people in person or through notes and e-mail.  This is a difficult but necessary task.  This is a job for a gifted teacher!

All in all, most of the characteristics describe anyone looking into a teaching career.  The important thing to consider is can these traits hold strong when tested.

 

Help Shape the minds of tomorrow and pass on your knowledge

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.

Now I know my ABC’s.  Next time won’t you sing with me!  

You may not remember the exact time and place you learned this song, but most of us learned it very young. In fact, it might have been your first song to learn to sing.  This was the first learning tool or strategy you development to help you learn to read.  This song continues to be important today.  Try to put a bunch of file in alphabetical order without singing it!

Tools and Teaching Strategies   

Teaching is an opportunity to open the mind of a student and promote lifelong learning.  As humans, there are strategies to the way we do or remember things.  When things are difficult  it is human nature to develop short cuts or any method to make things easier.  We have retained information, or shortcuts through many throughout life and especially our schooling which we use each day.  Even today we use strategies to remember people, places or phone numbers.  Do you remember 867-5309?  Musical artist Tommy Tutone( Jeff link to this guy) wrote a song to remember a girl Jenny’s number in the 1980s.  Due to this song millions of people remember Jenny’s number!   

 

teaching tools

These techniques are starting early!

Our children’s soccer coach might indirectly teach geometry by describing the shapes of the field or the number of feet or yard long.  An art teacher gives a memorable science lesson of how to blend two colors of paint and a new color is made.  

Music.  A preschool teacher uses a familiar nursery rhyme to aid children in the memorization of the day of the week and months of the year.  There are multiple songs to help with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  Music is important in the development of a child.  Plus, it is much easier to memorize something if it is put to music!  

Art.  A social studies teacher might have their students color code the continents or mountain ranges.  Learning occurs while building a volcano or creating the stage of a famous war.  Creating, designing, coloring or painting history is a memorable way to learn.

Theatre.  Almost everything in history can be acted out.  Class plays or skits are fun and entertaining.  

Teachers have the opportunity to share what they have learned and pass on their short cuts.  A teacher’s excitement about and lesson and contribution to a student’s learning is essential here.  These are all experiences that can be remembered for a lifetime.   

Even though our brains have not gotten any larger it seems there is more information being taught in the classroom.  The pressure increases when you think about the amount of information being taught, yet the amount of time in school has not changed.  There is why there is such a need for qualified and creative teachers.  We need passionate teachers who can truly teach.  

Passing on lessons that are not on the syllabus

A lot of lessons taught in school are not found in the syllabus.  Teachers call this a teachable moment.  All teachers must have lesson plans, but they must also be able to off script if there is a teachable moment.  A teacher might spend a week on a topic that seems simple and self explanatory, yet the class brings it to instructor’s attention that half the class have no idea what the lesson is about.  This is the time for the teacher to stop any further teaching and find a way to reteach the subject matter.  Maybe the way every class for decades understood the information does not work for this class.  Regardless, it is the job of the teacher to communicate the subject matter in a way all students retain it.

teaching strategies

Shaping Minds

There will be situations throughout the year when the outside world or real life invades the classroom.  Students will remember and learn how you handle the situation.  It could be students grieving the move of a classmate or bullying of another student.  Students will look at you for answers.  A teacher’s morals and virtues make an impression on a student sometimes for a lifetime.   

Teaching is the opportunity to share what you have learned throughout your life and education.  Everyone has difference school experiences.  In fact, many people become teachers because they understand how difficult school can be and they want to share their secrets.  Are you that person?

 

Putting in the Quality Time

Students know when a teacher no longer cares about their job.  It is frustrating to see a teacher put in what they have to instead of what they could be giving back.  Movies are a wonderful example.  When I was in elementary school in the late 80s I remember a movie being a reward after completing standardized testing or another mile stone within the class.  Today some teachers use the movies as a way to take a break from teaching.  This is just one example of teachers checking out.  This is not the majority, but it is happening and the students know it.

This is the time for teachers who wish to put the quality time into teaching to enter the classroom.  Teaching is a demanding job that requires late nights and lots of planning.  This is a job for a person who can handle lots of meetings, deadlines and many different personalities that may not agree with each other.  With all of that said, teaching is an extremely rewarding job!

Quality planning must have been done before quality time in the classroom can be done.  This means take into account all the children in your class along with their learning styles.  Will you need to spend more time in the classroom practicing the new concept?  Will you need visuals or printables?  One year I had a class with most of the children learning English as well as their academics.  I knew this meant I would need to allow more time to teach vocabulary at the beginning of this lesson.  Instead of jumping into a new social studies lesson we first learned the vocabulary needed to understand the new concept.
Taking the time to develop quality lesson plans and execute them is what students need today.  Teaching is not a career for unmotivated people or a person working enough to get a paycheck.  Quality education can only benefit students.   

 

Continuing education is a must in the career of teaching.

continuing education

The love of education should be one of the top reasons someone would want to become a teacher.  There might be several situations that inspired them and steered the person towards this career, but hopefully a love for learning was one of them.  Usually teachers fall into one of these two categories.

Teacher 1.  Academics have always been easy for this person.  This is the student who looks over their notes right before a test and aces it.  They can read a book and write an A+ book report moments before it is due.  This person loves learning and academic perfection is easy for them.  Teaching seemed like a natural choice for an occupation for an intellectual such as them because they understand the concepts and want to pass them on.

Teacher 2.  Every A or B this person has ever received from a teacher was earned with hours of studying, tutoring or meetings with teachers to further explain the concept.  This person budgeted their time for studying to come first and everything else second.  Teaching seemed like the natural choice for this individual because they had learned all of the shortcuts, memory strategies or techniques to understand certain information and they have the desire to share it.   

What these teachers have in common is intellectual curiosity and a love for learning.  Everyone learns and comprehends information differently.  This does not make one person better than the other.  It is simply how we are made.  It takes all kinds of teachers to teach and understand all kinds of students.

Teachers are motivated to learn more about the subjects in whatever way possible.  Some teachers pursue a Master’s degree or additional certifications.  All teachers are required to complete professional development classes within their school or county.  Most colleges allow adult learners to audit their classes.

Although mathematical equations and famous literatures stories have not changed over the years the method of teaching it might have been improved.  I remember my dad telling me the best way to learn your multiplication tables is by buckling down and memorizing them.  My math teacher introduced up to the multiplication song with hand movements.  Learning math through music was definitely a better way for me, but others would probably agree with my dad.  The point of this is to show the importance of my teacher being educated on new learning strategies.  I do not know if she learned about this song through a class, a fellow teacher or through a book.  Regardless, a teacher can stop educating themselves.
Should I be a teacher?  You should!

Teach for the love of teaching and learning.  

Teach to pass on what you have learned.  

Teach to make a difference by contributing to the good in education and fixing what does not work.  

Teach because you have the time to produce quality learning for your students.  

Teach because you are called to teach.