“Why would you want to be a teacher?”, “Oh, you’re just an education major?”, or something along those lines, is a question I’ve been asked far too many times to count. Family members, friends, co-workers, and even strangers I’ve just met have wondered about why I chose the career I have chosen. Sometimes, this question is asked out of genuine interest, but sometimes, there is a harsh undertone implying that somehow this position is inferior to other careers. I used to get offended when that undertone existed in the question. To be honest, I still do sometimes. But, as I am just two short months away from finishing my degree and have had my choice of career questioned more than a thousand times, I have realized just why I was born to be a teacher and why I am extremely proud of my decision.
When I was little, I would play school with my dolls and then with my siblings when they were old enough whether they wanted to or not. I loved the idea of incorporating fun activities, songs, and assignments into my “students’” education. When I finally got to go to school, I loved every second of the school day. I was that geeky kid who lived for getting good grades and impressing my teacher and parents any chance I had.
As I got older, I still loved school, and I still wanted to be a teacher. However, it seemed like everyone I told that idea to disapproved of it. I was encouraged to look into medical school or pursue engineering or something “higher up” like that. I started doubting my desire to be a teacher in order to try and please everybody else. I applied to more than 10 universities stating I wanted to study virtually any major but education. It seemed to impress everybody but myself.
When I got to college, it took me almost the entirety of my freshman and sophomore years to finally admit that I wanted to study education. I was afraid of the stereotype of being an education major. But, I decided a stupid stereotype was a small price to pay to pursue my passion.
Why be a teacher? Every day I walk into a classroom full of students who can’t wait to tell me what funny story happened at home last night or what they are excited about for today. Every day I get asked countless questions that have no relevance to what we are doing at the moment, but I answer them and satisfy a curious child’s wondering brain. Every day I get to see how a student who struggled with a concept the day before suddenly understands it and is unbelievably proud of his self or herself. Every day I am given the opportunity to love my students and put their needs before my own in order to help them achieve the future they are dreaming of.
Why would I choose something so “easy”? Surely I never stress out about how many meetings I have to go to, how much paperwork needs to be completed, how many behavior plans need to be followed, how much information I need to cram into just one week, or how I can teach a class of students who are classified two grade levels below where they need to be. It is so easy to have to think about how to teach students who don’t speak English, how to make sure my students get home safely, how I can make sure my students have food to eat at home, how I can get help for my students struggling with abuse or bullying, or how I can support students whose families have been torn apart. All of these things are a piece of cake to take care of.
Nothing compares to having a student look at you and tell you that they are thankful for you or that you are the best teacher ever. Nothing compares to having a student hug you and tell you all about their weekend. Nothing compares to making the sad student smile, the shy student break out of her shell, or the struggling student grin ear to ear because they finally mastered a concept.
Seeing the light in a child’s eyes when you tell her that her dreams, which surpass those of her parents’, are not only amazing but achievable, is a sight I’ll always cherish.
Nothing compares to knowing that you helped a child realize that they are not confined to the circumstances they were born into and that they are capable of amazing things.
As I am about halfway through my student teaching experience, I know I still have an infinite amount to learn about teaching. I know I’ll never know the answer to every question. I know I’ll never get through every day without making some mistakes or getting completely stressed out.
But, I do know I’ll never go a day without love. I’ll never go a day without laughter. I’ll be the richest woman in the world because my heart will be overflowing with thankfulness. I’ll never be lonely and I’ll certainly never be bored, I’ll never go a day having to wonder if I’ve made a difference in the world. I’ll never have to wonder if what I am doing matters.
That is why I want to be a teacher.