Teachers. They have the power to change our lives forever. I know personally, I am still close to my elementary art teacher (along with several of my college professors). Her kindness and view of art/the world, changed my 8 year old brain forever. But I’ve never asked her why she got into education to begin with.
Let’s be honest, it’s not for the paycheck or the short hours.
The reasons to become a teacher are much deeper than very attractive vacation time and making things with glitter, paste and construction paper. The need for teachers is constant and a much higher need exists for educators in special education, math, science, and English as a second language. The world is becoming smaller by the minute.
We asked our friends and family members that have chosen this noble career of education, a very simple question; Why? And we received some very honest answers. You’ll be surprised. We were.
Ok ok, a NOT so surprising .…
“I became a teacher….because I did not want to work so damn much. I absolutely love having two weeks off at Christmas, a Spring Break and an entire Summer off!!!!! I can share my love of politics and current events with my students!!”MaryJo -History Teacher in South Carolina
Teachers, of course do so much more than teach. Their impact extends far beyond the classroom. As a teacher, you are more than just an educator: you are a mentor, a confidant and a friend. One of the most common reasons to become a teacher is to make a difference in the lives of as many students as you can.
“Once upon a time I was young and naive, I thought I could get into education and work with kids to make a huge difference in their lives. Which I absolutely do get to do! Getting into education had always been all about helping kids. I won’t lie to you, the calendar is appealing, too. But it is not the reason I went into education.”Kate- Occupational Therapist NY State
We’ve all heard that great proverb, ” If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day; If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.“, Ellen, a retired teacher/librarian wanted to do just that. She wanted others to find the information they needed to improve their lives.
“My undergraduate degree is in teaching English, 7-12, but I got sidetracked with a library science minor and decided to get my masters in that field. So yes, I have taught young people, middle aged people, and old people how to educate themselves, how to find the information they need to improve their lives, complete a project, to entertain themselves, find the “real news” in this confusing world, and countless other ways. I am a “teach them how to find needed information by themselves,” rather than a “find the information and give to them” kind of librarian. Kind of like the give a man a fish…. kind of theory.”Ellen- Retired Librarian Watertown, NY
“I became a teacher, because I wanted to give back to my community.” One of the reasons for becoming a teacher is to contribute to your community in a meaningful way. Teaching is one of the most direct ways to make an impact, and if you are driven by the desire to help those around you, being a teacher is an invaluable contribution. You’ll go to work knowing that your students will have to face a changing, sometimes terrifying world of foreign affairs, a scary future of AI and fast-moving advancements in technology/automation. That means, it is absolutely necessary to equip the youngest generation with the tools and skills to innovate in an unpredictable world.
You’ll learn as well as teach.
During lessons, your students will ask questions. In primary education, they are amusing, charming and downright funny. A friend of mine told me once, in her son’s 2nd Grade class, everyone was asked to draw a ‘plant’. Her son drew a factory. Children are surprising.
As a higher level educator, your students will surprise and challenge you. You might have the answers. But other poignant times, you’ll have to dig deeper and look at the world from a different perspective. For example, if you’re a science teacher, you can also be a science student every school year. In the process, you’d have the opportunity to integrate new research, technology, and other science breakthroughs into your lessons.
“I love what I teach. I have a good balance of personality and professionalism. I feel like I can relate to students. I am mostly a very positive friendly person , but can flick the switch if needed. Teaching, at least in VT, allows you to be very creative in how you teach. The downside is all the politics, outside pressure, and the lack of respect that the general population has for the profession. Oh yeah and summertime!”Aaron- Chemistry Teacher South Burlington, VT
And some teachers find that they have influenced entire families! By establishing relationships and extended roots in a community, it means that you’ll be able to build a solid foundation for the future of our world. Just like Lois. She’s been teaching dance/movement for decades, to all ages, and skill levels. “I’m never bored. My students inspire me.”
“I love children and I want to share as much love and healing as is humanly possible to help them. The children that are struggling, they stick out to me. That’s why I teach, for those children. I used to be one of them and part of me always will be. “Lois- Dance Instructor Burlington, VT
Your role as a teacher is to guide the future by influencing students’ views and their understanding of the world they belong in. Also, you’d help them find undiscovered creativity, develop new behaviors, and foster a broadening global view, that will help them maneuver this demanding world with a positive mindset.
“Teachers provided vital support at critical times in my life so that I could graduate high school and go to college. I figured if I could do that for a someone else and do art as well, it would be a satisfying career.”Dick- Retired Art Professor Bomoseen, VT
A teacher’s impact has exponential factor. Changing one life, that in turn changes others. Ok, JUST for a moment, continue down that thought path. It becomes overwhelming filled with possibilities, doesn’t it? The sheer potential to interact with children/adults at all stages of development and from all walks of life, can AND will change the world. A phenomenal teacher will help students along a path that will shape the person they will become. If helping a child that is struggling with low self-esteem, problems at home, or social anxiety…then become a teacher to encourage them. You’ll help them find their self-confidence and discover their potential. Becoming a teacher lets you share life lessons that your students will never forget. Essentially, becoming a teacher allows you to shape the next generation. That’s what drew Autumn into teaching.
“I needed a career where I felt like I was changing the world to make it better. Plus kids are just so damn cute and funny and free and open that they make me a better and happier person. “Autumn – Spanish and Dance Teacher Burlington, VT
Just for a moment, apply a social justice lens to teaching. One student or one class at a time—can be immensely rewarding. You can bridge cultural, political and gender divides. As a teacher you can encourage acceptance, and create an inclusive environment. It’s one thing to teach, it’s another to practice what you teach. And in today’s world, fostering understanding is more important than ever. You have autonomy in your classroom to choose exactly how your students learn. The only limit is your creativity.
“I work in education and I am in it because I want to help create a system where no one is left out and anyone that tries, is given the chance and opportunity to learn in the way they need. Learning can be magical.”Rebecca – Boston, MA
You can improve the quality of education.
The demand for great teachers is a pressing need. Budget concerns, low teacher retention and alarming drop out rates are still happening across America. When you become a teacher, you can have an impact to the education system. Bring a voice to those who wouldn’t have one without you. Teachers with passion, create enthusiasm and inspire others with their dedication, including their students. When a student becomes empowered and inspired, it in turn inspires you as a teacher. It’s a circle of constantly inspiring and instilling passion. What could be better than that?
“When I used to study with my friends in high school, I loved the light of realization that came over their faces when they came to understanding something, and I was so proud of myself for getting them there when the teacher couldn’t.”Jenn -7th Grade Science Teacher Ilion, NY
Teaching is not for everyone. Personally, I took one education class in college and said, “NOPE! That’s not for me.” Teaching is a passion and it takes special people to become teachers, and an even better person to stay in the field past the 3-5 year burnout period. So even if teaching in the traditional sense is not for you, there are many different ways to mentor, guide and help out youth, just like Beth.
“My grandmother was in Education and was given the honor of teacher of the year in the state of Maine. I adored my Grammie and wanted to walk in her footsteps. I also loved working with kids. I have worked with kids in different capacities, toddler head teacher, children’s program coordinator at a domestic/sexual violence agency and now a children’s case manager. I love kids, their personalities and their open genuineness.”Beth -Portland, ME