What made you decide to become a teacher?Recently, I have been asked "what I want to be when I grow up."  I am leaning towards some kind of teaching career. I am just curious as to why different...

What made you decide to become a teacher?

Recently, I have been asked "what I want to be when I grow up."  I am leaning towards some kind of teaching career. I am just curious as to why different people have decided on this career. I would love to hear your opinions or your least favorite and favorite parts of your job!

Thanks.

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mizzwillie's profile pic

mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

In my teaching career, I have almost always worked with the more difficult students.   I had decided to be a teacher because I felt that I could reach any kind of student, and I wanted to give back as I was a poor kid who went to school on scholarships and work-study. I remember my students at the juvenile correction center saying that they dropped out of school because no one cared if they were at school or not. Somehow, lost kids became my specialty. I found that I could turn lives around even if the student was living in a car.  I never stopped encouraging, praising when a student did well, pushing when they could obviously do more by asking them to "dig deep" instead of skimming the surface, asking other teachers to either help me or asking them to give the kids a chance.  I did want to change my students' worlds, to give them skills to serve them in the future, to get them to think about their place in the world and what kind of person they wanted to be, and to be able to say at the end of the year that they had indeed learned worthwhile skills for the future. 

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I became a teacher because I, like many other teachers, found a teacher that helped me to become excited about education.  I always did well in school, but until I took U.S. History as a junior, I never found myself excite about school. This teacher was excited about his subject, excited about teaching it, and more excited about getting his students excited.  I found myself doing more than would just get me the "A".  I found that I wanted to really understand the material because I wanted to know where his excitement stemmed from.

A few years after high school, I tried to look him up to tell him about the impact he had on my life.  Unfortunately, he had passed away the previous year.  I still struggle with the fact that I was unable to say thank you.

mitchrich4199's profile pic

mitchrich4199 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

I figured out that I wanted to be a teacher when I left the Army in 1999. As a college student, I figured out that I loved Psychology and would have gone into that field had I not had a four year requirement to go into the service. I had figured out that I loved to LEARN and in that, I loved to think for myself and interpret things deeply. After my four years in the Army, Psychology was out of the picture, but learning wasn't. My rationale for becoming a teacher was that I could think abstractly and teach my students to think abstractly. Biology and other subjects were too concrete. I loved the idea of thinking and teaching students to think.

kapokkid's profile pic

kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I think I actually became a teacher because of some of the times I'd been asked to teach and really enjoyed it.  I taught Sunday School classes to younger kids and then to older kids, and I always enjoyed how preparing to teach them forced me to learn so much about the topic.

And I worked in a high school for a while as an aide and really enjoyed being around those kids so I figured it would be the perfect combination.

As I've done it now for a few years, the biggest driving force for me is just the fact that it is so hard.  It is incredibly challenging to find ways to help students learn with all the obstacles that are out there in school and everywhere else.

rskardal's profile pic

rskardal | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

I can support what larrygates says about lawyers and teaching, though I was never a lawyer. Still, I've now met two lawyers that have become teachers in my short career. They say that it is very rewarding (not financially) to be a teacher, and that sense of fulfillment has certainly been my experience. I love going to work. If you are trying to decide whether or not to become a teacher, my advice is to think about why you're doing it. I've heard that teachers that love working with kids are effective. When I started, I thought I was teaching because I enjoyed my subject. I do, but it's working with the students that makes teaching worth your time and effort.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I became a teacher because I was disappointed in the education I received.  From a fairly young age, around eleven or twelve, I knew that there was a better way.  By high school I was researching alternatives in education, and in college I studied education in earnest.  I found that teaching is a complex world, and I was hungry to be a change-maker.  After a few years of teaching, I became pessimistic and burnt out.  I faced a severe cognitive dissonance, being forced to do what I felt was wrong.  It almost drove me out of teaching.  After switching schools several times, I eventually found my niche.  I realized that there are as many different types of schools as there are different types of teachers.  The key is to find a good fit.  No matter where I am, as long as I am teaching I know I am making a difference.  I am still a change-maker, but not on a large scale.

stolperia's profile pic

stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

As a youngster, I loved "teaching" my dolls and spent hours cutting out pictures to create elaborate bulletin board scenes for each season of the year on the bulletin board above the desk in my bedroom.  As a high schooler, I had the opportunity to participate in the "counselor-in-training" program at the residential camp I had attended in earlier years and grew as a person and as a leader.  As a college education major, I worked in the summer as a counselor at that same camp and discovered I had the patience, energy and enthusiasm to live and deal with lower elementary-aged girls 24/7!

I think all these formative experiences contributed to and confirmed my developing decision that education was the area of endeavor where I was meant to be.  I love the challenge of engaging young minds and watching the light bulb come on when a new idea or procedure "clicks" for them.  The process of locating resources and developing classroom activities feeds my creative instincts and deepens my understanding of the material.  The opportunity to support and shape the next generation is real and precious, even in this day of shifting priorities and increasing pressures that have very little to do with caring and creating.

lorrainecaplan's profile pic

Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I entered the teaching profession only after spending twenty years practicing law. Believe it or not, most lawyers have an inner desire to be school teachers. There is something alluring about working with the younger generation; to see learning take place before your eyes, to watch them mature and grow into responsible adults; which is much more fun than cleaning up messes other people made, and hoping to get paid for it. I have now taught for thirteen years, and have never looked back. Changing professions was the best decision I have ever made. My favorite parts of the job, as I said, are watching young people grow into fruition. The worst part, which fortunately has only happened a few times is when I lose a child. It is like losing your own.  The poem referenced below says it better than I ever could.

Larry, my guess is there are many of us out there.  I practiced law for 25 years before I made the change to teaching, and it is the best decision I have ever made.  As I look back, I now see that even as an attorney, I was always trying to teach people, my clients, my opponents, and the court.  And I became tired of being in an adversarial situation, day in and day out.  I wanted to do something where everyone was on the same side.  And in a classroom, I find that to be the case.  Law is a zero-sum game, whereas in teaching, I feel that everyone wins.

To be certain this was what I wanted to do, I decided to try teaching on a small scale, a night class at a local school.  I was enthralled with this experience, went back to school to get a master's in education, and have been teaching ever since.  All I regret is that it took me so long to get here, but I bring so much more to the classroom from all those years as an attorney, so I think it's worked out pretty well. 

trophyhunter1's profile pic

trophyhunter1 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

From the time I was little and bossed around the neighborhood kids and made them play "school" while I was the teacher, I guess I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Also, every summer job revolved around being a camp counselor with the oldest, toughest teenage kids. I guess that is why I became a high school teacher and college adjunct professor.

lrwilliams's profile pic

lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

The reason I became a teacher was to try to make a lasting impression on my students. I was fortunate to have great teachers while in school and their impact on me was life lasting. My goal was to make as great an impact and impression on my students as they did upon me.

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I guess I knew when I used white chalk to pretend to teach by writing on my pale yellow latex-painted wall in my bedroom, which did NOT go over well with my mom (writing on walls, etc.).

Dad changed careers and went into teaching, but I, at the time, refused to do it when I graduated high school because my dad did. (The value of the job would probably have been wasted on me at that point anyway.) After attending college off and on, and working at several different kinds of positions—even to the point that I was making good money with a decent vacation package and benefits—I decided I wanted to be my own boss. (And in some ways, this is still true if you love what you do...who needs to check on you when you're already pushing yourself as hard as you can...crazy, I know...)

With my degree finally in hand, I was fortunate to get a job at the time. I had graduated from that district—and people there still knew me; and, my mentoring teacher was the absolute best instructor and advocate.

After my first day (I remember asking myself what I would find to talk about for 45-minutes....ha!), I was hooked, and quickly found that I liked what I did, especially the creativity of it, and the interaction with the kids.

When choosing my major, I did NOT think about the huge amounts of paperwork that come with teaching English: I loved history equally well, but English also allows us to talk about what we think and feel, rather than having to give an exact response. There is some of that, but interpretation of literature, poetry, etc., is great. Kids teach ME stuff on a regular basis.

Working with some parents can be difficult if those parents believe everything their child says or are unable to set out guidelines for their children. I tell my students I am a scorekeeper, and I go over things repeatedly till they are ready to beat me with a stick in hopes that everyone will get it. I want my kids to do well. It's hard when you really try and a parent blames you for something that you have not done or that is not in your control. It's hard not to take it personally for me because I care so much, and doing a good job I DO take personally...but this response is my problem to fix.

The kids make me LAUGH a lot. I teach ninth grade and love it more than any grade I have ever taught. I find that kids not only need to be taught English, but be given a place to voice how they feel about Shakespeare or...ghosts maybe (and they often go hand in hand). With some kids, we end up agreeing to disagree. Being consistent in following through with consequences with rules is tough, especially when the student in question in one of your best. The kids change you in great ways, and teach you things, and the saddest thing is that I only see them 180 days before they move on (though sometimes we all need a break from each other). But it's neat to see them come back as teachers, or getting married, having kids, etc. It is not a job for me. It is a passion. Some days are "diamonds, some days are stones." But what a ride!

And 45 minutes is rarely enough time in the classroom!

lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

I guess I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I set up my very elaborate classroom in the basement of my childhood home and made the neighbor children come in for the story time.  It is interesting to note that I grew up to be an English teacher (just like then!).  I truly came to teaching because I love reading and writing.  I had thoughts that I should do something like journalism, but in my heart of hearts, I always knew I would end up in the classroom.  I know that I made the right choice when I wake up in the morning and look forward to sharing my delight with a novel, a play, a poem or a short story. I don't even hate grading all the papers!

besure77's profile pic

besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

I decided to become a teacher because I love knowledge. I love to learn and it gives me great joy to share this passion with others. Not everyone always appreciates it but inspiring even one child is a great feeling and worth every second.

megan-bright's profile pic

megan-bright | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

I entered the field because I have a passion and gift for not only teaching students content area knowledge, but for inspiring them, and guiding them into becoming productive citizens who have a love for learning.

I am also very patient and love the excitement of being able to incorporate all types of sources (books, music, art, movies, articles) and bring different experiences into the classroom.

Unfortunately, the "least favorite" parts of the job are extremely overwhelming: High-stakes testing pressure, arbitrary and subjective evaluations, harsh politics, major demoralization from the government and administration, a lack of true professional voice, scripted curriculum and more.

larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I entered the teaching profession only after spending twenty years practicing law. Believe it or not, most lawyers have an inner desire to be school teachers. There is something alluring about working with the younger generation; to see learning take place before your eyes, to watch them mature and grow into responsible adults; which is much more fun than cleaning up messes other people made, and hoping to get paid for it. I have now taught for thirteen years, and have never looked back. Changing professions was the best decision I have ever made. My favorite parts of the job, as I said, are watching young people grow into fruition. The worst part, which fortunately has only happened a few times is when I lose a child. It is like losing your own.  The poem referenced below says it better than I ever could.

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