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Why would one want to be a educator?

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When I look at all the different ways our government provides for those in need, versus the ways the church provides, versus the ways individuals (philanthropists by nature) provide, and consider the many opportunities I have as an individual to change the future, education is the one area that sticks out as making the best impact on someone else and the biggestimpact for the greater good.

The old cliche, you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day, or teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime always rings true with me. 


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Teachers feel that they have something which they can give to others; moreover, they feel compelled to share this gift.  This is the main reason for becoming an educator.  Unfortunately, they are often sidetracked by bureaucracies that impede true education with forms and programs that are often ineffective; however, teachers are usually stalwart in their purpose.

The rewards of imparting their knowledge to those who will receive it are many.  Just as one cultivates a plant and then sees it bloom in beauty, the teacher is rewarded for her efforts and delighted when a student travels down the new avenues of thinking to which the educator has brought him or her. Indeed, teaching is a profession in which both student and educator can flourish.

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The biggest reason I wanted to become a teacher is that I wanted to help students both academically and in their choices in life.  Having taught in the correctional system, I could see where choices could lead.   My favorite grades to teach were 8th and 9th simply because these are the most vulnerable students in terms of the choices they make, and because I felt that in English, these two years were critical for learning to write with complexity and nuance.  Students at this level can be encouraged to see themselves as a CPA instead of a janitor (true story) or to see that they are capable of far more than they believe of themselves.  I loved teaching even though the workload is incredible, and more is demanded every year. Being able to "touch the future" is both daunting and incredibly rewarding when you see the light dawn in a student's eyes or a student tells you how much you have meant in their education.  I've never regretted my choice.

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The money... of course, I'm kidding.  The biggest reason I wanted to become a teacher was because I believed it afforded me the greatest opportunity to impact the future of our country.  I've always been very academically focused and compassionate, and I believed that teaching matched up well with my abilities.  My mom was a teacher, and as a little girl I always wanted to follow in her footsteps.

On another level, I believe the system of education in our nation has some big problems, and another reason I wanted to be an educator is because I felt I could be part of the solution.  I don't believe our educational system is beyond saving, and I felt I could at minimum change the lives of kids and at best help change the system.

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I became a teacher because I loved the academic surroundings, thought I would be helping society by teaching the youth of America, and because I enjoyed being around young people. (I also loved the idea of having summers off for travelling.) I never really considered that the relatively poor pay would remain among the lowest of all professions requiring a college degree, nor did I ever envision that teachers would be the ones blamed for poor student academic standards and most of the other problems associated with schools today. If I had to do it all over again--knowing what I know now--I probably would have chosen another profession.

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I think there are many different reasons one might want to become a teacher. In the town I used to live in, the school district was one of the few employers, and certainly (believe it or not) one of the highest-paying. Teaching is also generally a fairly stable job, with good benefits. And, frankly, having summers and holidays off is a plus, especially for people with children. I by no means want to disparage the many noble reasons people go into teaching, only to suggest that there are some tangible advantages too, even given the issue of low pay. These are still more reasons to consider it as a career.

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Some people think teaching is the easiest job.  They think teachers work only eight months out of the year, and we work six hours a day.  We have easy jobs and good job security.  It’s the perfect coast-through job.

These people have the wrong idea about teaching.  None of that is true.  Teachers work all year-round.  When we are not teaching in the summer, we plan for the new school year, tutor, teach summer school, attend professional development, and take other jobs to supplement our measly salary.  Teachers do not work six hours a day either.  We come to school before the sun is up, preparing for our day.  We work through lunch, and usually have no breaks.  It is common for teachers to develop bladder infections from not having restroom breaks.  We bring stacks of papers home to grade.  Dinner conversation is about our students.  We have many sleepless nights worrying about them.  We dream about them.  Every spring, tens of thousands of teachers get pink slips telling them they probably won’t have a job the next year.

Why, then, would anyone become a teacher?  Teachers are not in it for the money.  They are not looking for prestige.  They are not looking for job security, because there is none.  Teachers teach for one reason—they care.  Teaching is a calling, not a profession.  Teaching is about sacrificing for the greater good.  It’s about touching the future. 

Why do we teach?  We teach for that gleam in a student’s eye when he thinks of something clever.  We teach for the light bulb moment when she finally gets it.  We teach because someone has to be there for the scrapes, heartbreaks, break-ups and losses.  We teach because someone has to celebrate the successes, victories, miracles, and milestones.  We teach because the little people that populate our classrooms day after day are going to be our neighbors, politicians, business owners, shop-keepers, and performers.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”  William Butler Yeats (see first link)

Teachers are always learning.  As Jonathan Kozol reminds us, we should not “assume that a hostile or sullen child “does not have the will to learn,” but rather has “plenty of interesting stuff to teach us too” (see third link).  Teaching is about opening your heart and yourself to others.

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A true teacher knows that is what he wants to do.  There are many people who teach that do not belong in the profession for one reason or another.  However, the "teacher" probably knew somewhere along his schooling that this was where he wanted to work.

It demands broad knowledge of subject matter, curriculum, and standards; enthusiasm, a caring attitude, and a love of learning; knowledge of discipline and classroom management techniques; and a desire to make a difference in the lives of young people. With all these qualities required, it's no wonder that it's hard to find great teachers.

I do not necessarily believe that teacher are born. On the other hand, I do think that there are innate qualities that the teacher has that will enable him to become a true educator.

  • Strength of character
  • Optimism
  • Intelligence
  • Love of learning
  • Extrovert
  • Sense of humor
  • Positive attitude toward life
  • High expectations
  • Flexibility
  • Compassion
  • Creativity

With these qualities in his bag of tricks, the teacher is on his becoming successful.

Teaching is truly a noble profession. It is also a very time consuming one, requiring a commitment on his part. Teaching can be very demanding but can also be extremely rewarding.   It is one of the most valuable jobs in the world because of the product that comes as a result of a good teacher. 

A love of children would have to be one of the reasons that teachers teach.  Wanting to help them, watch them grow intellectually, and preparing them for the next step in their lives--this is a necessary desire for a real teacher. 

Teachers are passionate about being involved in the future.   Teachers have a quest for lifelong learning.  Wanting to know more so they can share that information is an absolute necessity for teachers.

Helping to change the face of education becomes a lifetime's challenge. The community believes that teachers have an easy schedule.  Let them teach high school English for two weeks.  Everyday, there are papers to grade. Almost every night, a portion of the evening is spent marking papers. Teachers do have summers off; however, they are not paid for that time. 

There are many negative facets in the life of a teacher.  Obviously, the teacher has to want to be an educator in order to face those problems every day. I agree with the previous answer that it is an extremely stressful job.  The pay is poor, the administration is not always supportive, and the parental problems grow each year.

The teacher is like an actor; he is on stage the entire time he is in the classroom.  Not that he becomes someone else...the teacher is a performer, a motivator, an entertainer, an informant. When students are around, the teacher must set an example of how to act in all situations.  There are very few minutes of the day that a teacher can just sit back and chill.  That is not the life of a teacher in the school setting. 

Yet, looking at those eager students' faces waiting for the teacher to share the information with them brings rewards that cannot be found in other professions.  Knowing that one has made a difference in a child's life keeps a teacher coming back each day despite the ten other things that went wrong the day before.

In my life after forty-one years of teaching, I can say that when I was in high school I knew that I would be a teacher.  I really wanted to be a lawyer, but I was from a small town and my family was middle class.  From the beginning of my career, I knew that I was a good teacher--tough, challenging, demanding, but fair.  I was in it for the long haul.

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There are different reasons why people might choose to become educators.  However, the most common reason by far is that educators typically enjoy working with young people and want to help young people get the education they need to succeed in life.

Teaching can be a very stressful job.  The pay is not high and the demands are considerable.  However, many teachers enjoy the profession because it allows them to work with young people.  Young people can be a lot of fun to be around and it can be very rewarding to work with them.  This is particularly true because teachers get to feel as if they are helping the young people to get ahead in life.  These psychological benefits of the job are the major reason why most people choose to become educators.

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