Why I Teach – Part 1: My Students

I am challenging myself to blog more consistently. I am going to attempt to post three to five times a week for the month of December. I thought a good place to go next is to discuss why I teach. This is not going to be the story of my journey into a career in education, that is another post for another time. This is going to be a five-part series about what drives and motivates me on a daily basis. With that said let’s dive in to this topic.

Earlier this semester my district had a random Monday in September for a Professional Development day. A Google Innovator was brought in from out of state to talk about ways to make more effective use of Google Classroom. That part of her presentation was great and since that day I have made much use of what she presented, however, it was a completely different part of her presentation that has stuck with me the most. At the beginning of the day she had us write down 5 things we love about our job on 5 different note cards. I have carried those note cards with me daily ever since. As I have continually reflected on what I wrote that morning I have come to a much deeper realization of why I love my career. To further reflect upon this I want to talk about what I wrote on each of these cards in a blog post each day this week.

Upon the first notecard I wrote:

I love getting to build relationships with the students.

This is truly what drives me on a daily basis. I love my students. They are not perfect. They do not always do their work immediately, or quietly, or efficiently. Sometimes they frustrate me to no end. Sometimes they pleasantly surprise me. All the time, though, they cause me to be a cheerleader urging them to achieve greatness.

When I switched careers to enter the field of education I was nervous about leading a classroom. I had worked around high school teens for mostof the previous two decades, but this was different. I had been a substitute teacher for the semester before having my own classroom, but this was different. I was now the one setting the agenda daily, and having to have a plan to teach my students new knowledge. I had to be ready for anything and everything. My first semester was rough at times; I was teaching three subjects in three different rooms, to students from 4 grades. Halfway through the first quarter I was out for almost two weeks for emergency gall bladder surgery. I constantly felt as if I was trying to just stay above water. I never felt fully secure in my classes for a myriad of reasons. There was one constant though; I loved interacting with my students. In fact, I went home most days with a very full heart because of this. I learned quickly it was easier to get students to care about financial literacy or health if I got them talking about themselves and made it personal. This was easy for me too, I genuinely cared about what my students had to say. (I still do). Through this I started to build relationships.

This became a much easier process as I moved into my own room and to a comfortable subject area the following year. From day 1 of that first full year things seemed to flow much smoother. Many of those students became like family to me. Since that time I have continued to simply invest in students’ lives. Many times in our passing periods I have crowds of former students (some I never even had in class) that are gathered around me to talk. I have to remind them to go to their own classes. I also have to be mindful about still seeking to build new relationships at the same time as furthering the existing relationships. There is something uniquely rewarding about being mentioned as a student’s favorite teacher at a homecoming assembly, or being asked to write reference letters, or getting a high five or fist bump in the hall as students walk to their next class. It all comes down to building relationships with students out of a sincere ongoing desire to see them excel. This is the primary reason I do what I do.