Thursday, April 11, 2013

15 Reasons to Teach

It seems like there are plenty of articles floating around on the internet lately about why teaching is such a lousy profession. I feel like I see negative things about teaching on a daily basis:  teachers doing terrible things, bullying is out of control in schools, testing testing and more testing, budget crises, staggering statistics about the mass exodus of teachers fleeing the profession, blah, blah, etc. Teachers are overworked and underpaid. As a whole, teaching is an undervalued profession.

And I don’t disagree with any of it. I know it’s happening. We all do.

But I still get excited when I hear someone talking about becoming a teacher. I still encourage people who think they might be interested in teaching to job shadow a teacher or to volunteer in a classroom. 

And I can say with certainty that after teaching 8th grade English for the past 8 years, I still love teaching.

So why become a teacher? (And no, I’m not going to crack that tired old joke about June, July, and August.) 

  1. Kids will think you are smart. I never feel particularly articulate or intelligent when I’m surrounded by a group of adults, but put me in front of a class of middle schoolers and suddenly I am a genius.  

  2. Teachers have an awesome schedule, especially if you have kids. I get home from work in time to take my kids to the park or meet up with a friend for a playdate. Or run errands. Or have happy hour.                                                                                                                                          
  3. Being a teacher means you know how to deal with your own kids’ teachers. You recognize that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but that you need to be a nice squeaky wheel to get what you want. You know how to make reasonable requests without being a pain in the ass. You remember to conclude every email with a thank you because you know teachers don’t hear those words often enough.

  4. You get to know some really amazing human beings. I have had the privilege of working with thousands of insightful and funny kids during the years that I’ve been teaching. I particularly enjoy running into former students and learning where life has taken them. It’s always fascinating to hear what they remember about my class, or how something I said or did resonated or helped them in some way. It’s really fun when they turn 21 and want to go get a beer with you. (I think that might be the ultimate compliment.)

  5. You get a classroom. Let’s face it, who doesn’t need an entire extra room to store their stuff? Whenever we clean closets I always find things we don’t use but that I can’t bear to throw away. When in doubt, take it to school! I have all my paperwork from grad school stored in binders on my classroom shelf. I also have an impressive looking collection of pedagogy books that makes me look smart. The reality is that I couldn’t sell them back to the bookstore and have nowhere else to put them.

  6. School supplies! I love Post-Its and freshly sharpened pencils. Brightly colored gel pens make me really happy.

  7. Teaching is a great outlet for people who are prone to bossiness.  Ahem.

  8. You will become a really efficient eater. You only get half an hour for lunch and by the time you sweep the stragglers from your room and head down to the staff room, it's really more like 25 minutes. To avoid rush hour on your way back from lunch, you'll want to leave a few minutes before the bell. Throw in a trip to the bathroom and some time at the microwave and your lunch time is pretty much over. Eating quickly is probably not good for your digestion but this skill might come in handy at some point in your life. You just might win a hot dog eating contest or something.

  9. The dress code. Some of my colleagues will (perhaps wisely) disagree with this, but I believe that teaching middle school entitles you to wear things that might be considered age inappropriate. For example, if I worked in a bank I probably wouldn’t own a pair of lilac colored skinny jeans, but they are a hit whenever I wear them to middle school.

  10. All of that exposure to germs over the years will give you a super immune system. You also improve your personal hygiene skills. I now wash my hands before and after going to the bathroom.

  11. Teachers are always learning. Did you know that the ancient Greeks didn't use napkins? They wiped their hands on pieces of bread and then fed it to their dogs. Me neither. Until yesterday.

  12. You will laugh every single day. Sometimes you will laugh to keep from crying. Sometimes you will laugh until you cry. Either way, you will be laughing. Trust me.

  13. You will become optimistic about the future. Kids today are thinkers. They are self-aware and they connect with each other in ways my generation never imagined. They are passionate about their causes and they have access to more information than any generation before them. I believe they will do good things with our world.

  14. You get to plan your own day. Feeling tired? Let’s do some silent reading today. Feeling ambitious? Let’s throw some Shakespeare and a box full of costumes at 8th graders and see what happens.

  15. Okay, I said I wasn’t going to mention it here, but having your summers off is pretty sweet. I'm not going to lie.

So next time someone tells you they are a teacher, instead of busting out that cliché  “Oh, I’m sorry” or  “I could never do that” just smile and consider saying thank you. It might be the first time he or she has heard that in awhile.

1 comment:

  1. Hi and thanking for visiting my blog. I'm so pleased to discover yours!
    I can empathise with this post as I'm also a teacher though I think there are probably differences between the US and the UK. Hours are long here and I pretty much get home after everyone else but I do get a huge amount of holiday time when I try and make up for the lack of term time to my two girls. The UK is mad about school uniform too and so teachers are expected to be uncomfortably smart as well! But for all the downsides I wouldn't change jobs - it's a huge privilege - Helen