Why I Teach.

Paul L. Martin has an absolutely gorgeous post up about why he is a teacher. You really, really, really need to go read it. Like, now. I'll wait.


Good, right? Totally inspiring and maybe brought a few tears to your eyes? At least that's how it affected me.

Because....I totally agree with Paul.
I have hope. I do not believe in a lost cause. Yes, the world seems mired in darkness, students read less and less, and no one seems to know how to get things back on track. But I know my presence in the classroom is a blow against all that. The odds are overwhelming, and the learning I facilitate may not have any effect for a long time, but I believe in what I do...When I walk in that room, see my students, launch into the lesson, everything lifts. This is where I was born to be, pure and simple.

And that is why I know that if you do not feel that, the classroom is not for you. Sure, we can look at test scores, and successful schools, and effective administrators, but it all boils down to the teacher. Why are you a teacher? The answer to that question is everything.

And it is. It is absolutely everything. For you, for your students, for their future husbands and wives and employers and employees and children and everyone.

I thought I'd mentioned before that my school is an AVID school but I can't find a post in which I did that. Anyway, we are, and I think it's a fabulous program. If you don't know AVID, it's a program designed to support academically-middle kids from underrepresented groups (like first to attend college, kids from poverty, or kids from minority groups) in their quest to attend college. The kids have to want it for themselves; it can't be their parents, because that's not enough. You can learn more about it here.

Our AVID students are writing essays right now about their personal struggles and how AVID has helped them overcome those challenges to keep them on track to go to college and achieve their dreams. The AVID teacher had emailed the 8th grade Language Arts teachers to ask us for help with revisions if we had time, so today during my plan, I trotted on down to the AVID room to read a few essays.

Each piece was to start with a personal introduction, sort of a dedication, in which students thanked anyone whom they felt had been truly instrumental in their success. Kids thanked parents, sibling, uncles, and, of course, teachers. In two of the three essays I read, I was one of the people thanked. One was the Chatterbox, who thanked me for having always been there for her, no matter what, for more things than she could ever express. The other was a sweet girl who thanked me for teaching her to love reading and writing and for never giving up on her.

That. That is why I teach.

Oh, not for the thanks, not exactly, though of course that was wonderful (so nice to be appreciated). But for them.

For the kids who shout hellos to me
every time I go to an event. For the students who say they hate reading, till they find the right book. For the poets who come in after school for extra help, just because. For the boys who eat lunch in my room every day and laugh and joke and compete for attention. For these beautiful, wonderful, talented, funny, smart, heartbroken, ridiculous, crazy, obnoxious, sad, dreamy, open, confused, angry, loving, hopeful children.

I teach for them. Each and every one of them. Nothing else could be worth it.

(Image credit to Q. Thomas Bower)


RKS said...

Have you heard of the book called The Book Whisperer? If not, you should pick it up...I finished it in two days. It's all about independent reading and helping kids develop a passion for's amazing!

teachin' said...

I have it, though I haven't found the time to start it yet - but if it's as good as you say, I'll jump in this weekend! Thanks!

"I'm a dreamer but I ain't the only one Got problems but we love to have fun" -K'naan, "Dreamer"

I teach eighth grade Language Arts at an urban school. My kids kick ass and will change the world. I want everyone to know.
Copyright 2009 I'm a Dreamer All rights reserved.
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