Why Teaching is a Wonderful Career Choice
Many years ago, when I was about eight years old, I had this superb teacher whom I idolized. Prior to her, I really did not have any feelings, either positive or negative, towards my previous educators. But, this woman was just wonderful! She made learning not only easy but also fun! That one person helped me to determine my future career.
Teaching is definitely not for everyone. I believe that it takes a certain type of individual to make a good teacher. Compassion, a sense of humor, fairness, patience, level headedness and understanding are just some of the attributes that a good teacher must possess. A teacher must also be able to think on his/her feet and be able to "go with the flow" to cope with the many challenges within the walls of a classroom. A teacher must definitely be able to think at the student's level if any learning is to take place in that setting. And, above all, a teacher must act like a concerned and caring parent, demanding yet giving respect as it is so earned.
Over the years, I've heard many disgruntled colleagues wonder if teaching is really for them. I've heard them complain about how undisciplined today's teens are and how disrespectful they have become. I've heard horror stories about what has occurred within the confines of the classroom walls. As a result, I've also seen some colleagues move on to other professions which made them happier than teaching. But, for me, teaching has always been a truly enjoyable experience.
I have been an intermediate and high school mathematics teacher for many years and have encountered numerous students who just plain hate Mathematics and see no reason to learn that stuff! That, in itself, is a real challenge! Topped with making learning fun and enjoyable, I've had my work cut out for me!
Teachers have to be very versatile to meet different learning styles. A teaching method that works best with one student can be totally wrong for another. Every child is different and, to capitalize on maximum learning, a match must be made between teaching and the different student's learning styles. Only that correct match will ensure success. That success is what makes learning easy and enjoyable!
A teacher must also be aware of what knowledge the students possess before building on this to introduce new concepts. I was not always a math teacher but taught Kindergarten for a few years earlier in my teaching career. I remember one time when I tried to teach my Kindergarten class about buoyancy without first determining their prior knowledge. It was a wonderful lesson and we were using objects which either float or sunk in the classroom water tank. Afterward, I asked them what caused a cork to float but a rock to sink and one little boy said, "Water displacement!" I nearly died right on the spot! I didn't realize just how much knowledge the children possessed which I could have capitalized on in our little lesson. I've never forgotten that little boy's remark and my shock which followed it!
Teaching is a wonderful and rewarding experience. I just love to see my students' faces light up when they finally understand some concept which I've been teaching. The glow emitting from their faces would make anyone proud. That feeling of success makes the student want to move on and learn more things. Children learn in school in a similar fashion as they learned to walk at home - first making tiny, nervous steps, then gaining confidence until they can ultimately run with agility. That final phase can be paralleled to a confident learner in the classroom setting.
So, if you or someone you know is thinking of becoming a teacher, think twice. It's not all about the pay or the days off. It's about making a difference in many children's lives. If done correctly, the difference will be for the good as we try to mold the students of today into role models and leaders of the future. Take that job seriously for our future depends on it.
Now upon retirement, after thirty years as a teacher, I know that I indeed made the right choice! When I think about all the lives which I touched and the impact which I have had on so many children, I shiver.