Whenever I tell someone that I’m going to school to be a teacher, I get one of two responses. The first one is “Wow, teaching! You must really love kids. You must really have a big heart. Good for you! It’s a very commendable profession”. The next response that I get, and admittedly, the most common, would be “Teaching? So you want to make almost a non-livable wage your entire life? Don’t do it. That’s ridiculous.” I can come up with as much convincing as possible, but it never works on people who truly don’t see the joy of teaching. In this post, I’m going to talk about the reasons of why I have found my calling within the world of education, and why I’m not mad about that one bit.
Before I really start this post off, I should explain something that a lot of people who personally know me probably wonder when I post about teaching. I left a career that I really could have succeeded in both financially and professionally. I loved doing makeup and making people feel pretty all day long, and I made decent money for my age when I left, but I didn’t feel fulfilled. I felt that I wasn’t making a true difference in this world, and that one day, I wouldn’t leave a legacy or my mark on society.
I felt stuck in a job that I loved at one point, but no longer felt served by. When I thought about doing makeup full time, it didn’t bring me joy…it brought me anxiety, depression, and frustration. I knew I had to get out.
When I was in high school, I always thought that I could be a great teacher. I had a passion for history, and figured that that would be the natural way to go. I was talked out of teaching by a guidance counselor, and thus got into the beauty industry. When I left behind my beauty career, a family friend who owns a local private school reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to work in the kindergarten and first grade classes to just be a second set of eyes for the teacher. I thank God for that call everyday, because it made me realize a lot of things about myself.
One year later, and I still work for the school doing all sorts of different things. I know now, more than ever, what my true calling in life is…and that is teaching. I don’t sit in my car before going into work having to convince myself to not cry. I no longer feel like something is missing in my life. I feel more complete by knowing my purpose.
In this post, I’m going to give my top five reasons (among so many more) of why I know that teaching is right for me. I’m not convincing you to become a teacher, because teaching isn’t for everyone, I’m just simply sharing my personal “why” for what I do.
1. I want to contribute to society
I believe that the best way to create a society that works together for the greater good is to work with young people. This is one of the main reasons why I chose to teach high school. Every single year, we are sending out high school graduates into the world. Teachers play a huge role in making sure that they are prepared for that. Most people might argue that we only teach students subject matter. However, what separates a good teacher from a great teacher is their ability to teach them more than just history, math, or science. It’s teaching them about life. I believe deeply that I possess this ability.
2. I had a lot of amazing teachers throughout my education
Everyone remembers their favorite teacher growing up. We speak fondly about these teachers, and can recall a time where they had a great impact on our lives. I want to be that for someone else. For me, I was surrounded by teachers who made me feel like I could do anything. I would have never known that these teachers had bad days, because they made my days brighter. Being able to turn someone’s day around, while also providing them with an amazing education is something that I am passionate about.
3. I have a huge passion for the subject I want to teach
Ever since I could remember, I have loved history. When I was little, I was that kid who would have rather gone to a museum instead of the park. I found historical facts and figures more fascinating than cartoons. In school, I was always the student who couldn’t wait to get to history class, because I wanted to learn as much as I could. To be able to teach a subject is sharing your passion for it. I want to get kids excited about studying history, as impossible as that sounds.
4. I love working with young people
Being faced with the task of shaping the minds of young people is not something to take lightly. In fact, it’s one of the hardest jobs that anyone will ever do. For some people, they would be completely turned off by the mood swings and often blatant disrespect that happens when you work with teenagers. For me, it’s what intrigues me about this profession the most. I love reaching out to a student that I feel is struggling. I love being able to turn that child’s life around and give them hope.
5. I want to make a difference in someone’s life
Throughout the years, I have created a mental bucket list of things I want to accomplish before I die. At the top of that list is exactly this. I want to do more than just teach, I want to know that someone’s life was made better by me being a part of it. Although it seems like a lofty goal, I know that I can accomplish this. I want each student who walks into my classroom to know that they matter in this world, that they can do anything they set their mind to. I want them to be able to look back at their high school years positively.
There are so many reasons to not teach: the pay, the way that the education system is set up, unruly kids, among other things. While teachers in other countries are revered as honorable members of society, America has a vastly different idea of teaching, and what it is. As an education major, I can’t ignore any of those facts. However, I choose to look past all of that.
I want to end this post with a little bit of insight into what teachers do on a regular basis. Taylor Mali, a teacher, poet, and education advocate, outlined in his poem, “What Teachers Make” talks about how he faced adversity from a lawyer who asked him what he really made as a teacher. His response, which really inspired me to make the leap and become an educator, has inspired teachers all over. I left an excerpt below, but I highly recommend reading the whole thing!
You want to know what I make?
I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor
and an A-‐ feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time
with anything less than your very best.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom?
Because you’re bored.
And you don’t really have to go to the bathroom, do you?
I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
Hi. This is Mr. Mali. I hope I haven’t called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something your son said today.
To the biggest bully in the grade, he said,
“Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?
It’s no big deal.”
And that was noblest act of courage I have ever seen.
I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.