Why I Teach – Part 4: My Colleagues

Last week I started posting a five-part blog series about why I teach. Here is the fourth part, and for those that have not read part 1 yet, I will begin again with what inspired this series.

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 separate blog post.

Upon the fourth notecard I wrote:

I love being stimulated and challenged by innovative coworkers.

I have written about what makes my job, rewarding, fun and essential. Today I am going to write about what makes it stimulating.

Teaching may be the perfect job for me. Seriously. I am part of a great team of coworkers. I am not in charge of nor responsible for everything. And I have a large degree of control of what goes on in my own classroom. For a people person that likes control but does not want to manage everyone this is a pretty much ideal set-up for me. The cherry on top of all of this is the colleagues.

In my first week of my new career I noticed something highly different about the quality of the people with which I worked. That difference has never really subsided. Now I do not mean this as a form of denigrating past great coworkers. In my previous career I was privileged to work with some truly stellar people. I had never worked with people this intelligent though. I had never had lunch conversations about Dostoevsky’s character development or the multiverse implications of the newest findings surrounding string theory or the present political implications regarding the dispute over the Classical and Post Classical Silk Road Trade route. I have had all of those conversations at lunch and many other thoughtful deep reflections on a vast number of topics.

These conversations do in fact stimulate me and challenge me. I am also challenged by the innovative way I witness my colleagues teach. I love to go in and watch great teachers teach. I feel this helps me to learn to be a much better teacher myself. It helps me to avoid pedagogical ruts and to keep trying new things.

However there is a deeper way my colleagues motivate and push me. The shared love for our students is felt strongly whenever I am around my coworkers. I would go as far as to claim that every single teacher in my building is there because they truly desire to help students reach their various and vast potentials. This is the glue that holds us all together. We do not always agree in those lunch time discussions. We do even occasionally disagree with other teachers or staff members over more serious issues. Yet it is this shared emotional drive to push our students beyond their perceived limits that keeps us linked together on mission and helps us quickly get past any disagreement big or small.

Teaching is rewarding because of the students, it is fun because I can try out so many ways of teaching to ensure I connect with them all, it is essential because of what I teach, and it is stimulating because of my intelligent, innovative, and just all around amazing colleagues.