Every time someone asks what I'm going to school for, I'm proud and excited to reply with "Elementary Education." However, far too often, I'm confronted with people who tell me that I'm wasting my time. They say I'm "too smart" to be a teacher, or I could be making more money doing something else. The stigma that, for some reason, exists against the teaching profession needs to come to an end, so here is my response to all of those people who don't understand why I want to teach:
To the person who told me teaching is a waste of time:
While I value your opinion, I must say I'm very confused as to what about the teaching profession could be a waste of time. To gain experience, I've spent many hours in classrooms already, and I leave those rooms of children each day feeling fulfilled. Maybe I didn't change the world in that one day of shadowing or substitute teaching, but I was there for the children who are going to be the future of this world one day.
I want you to take a moment to think about the job you have now. I hope you love it as much as I love teaching since that's what everyone really deserves in a career. But think about how you got to that job. You didn't just wake up one morning and have an awesome position. You took classes, each one building on another. It might not seem like it, but even your elementary school teachers helped you to get to the job you have today. If you hadn't learned how to read in first grade or how to count money in second grade, you wouldn't be standing where you are today.
One of the comments I receive all the time is that I'm "too smart" to be a teacher. I appreciate the supposed compliment though I don't think being smart really has anything to do with my chosen career path. I do work hard and I value my grades, but it's because I have a love for learning.
What I have is simple: Passion. Sure, I could be a doctor or a lawyer if I really wanted to and it would be a good thing because doctors and lawyers are incredibly important. But my passion lies with teaching and I think that's where I belong. Besides, do we really want "dumb" teachers shaping the minds and hearts of future generations? I sure would think otherwise.
If you think I could be setting myself up to make a lot more money with a different career path, you're absolutely right. Teachers don't make a huge salary, which is an entirely separate issue I won't get into now. But for me, it isn't about the money. It's about changing the lives of students. It's about inspiring learners. It's about making a difference. I honestly feel I was put on this earth to teach and no amount of money or luxury could convince me otherwise. I have no problem settling for a lower paycheck than what I could potentially be earning in another profession because, to me, it's all about the students.
So next time you tell me, or any other future/current/former teacher that their profession is a waste of time, I ask you to please reconsider doing so. I understand the life of a teacher isn't the glamorous, high-paying job many people aspire to have, and that's OK. But it doesn't mean it's less important than any other job. Teachers inspire the future.