#SOL18 What Do You Love About Teaching?

Recently on Twitter, author Lauren Tarshis posed a question: "Teachers...what do you love most about your work? What inspires you?" I saved this question to come back to because it is a compelling one. 

I've been a teacher since 2001 but dreamed of being a teacher long before that.  A high-achiever and a hard-worker, I've had some internal conflicts about my decision to stay in the classroom rather than "climb the ladder" and seek a position with more respect, more authority, more clout. More money. More prestige. Shouldn't one keep striving for higher dreams and goals? Have I been complacent by staying in the classroom? 

The thing is, I love being a teacher. There is always more to learn, so you never really feel complacent or like you are stagnating. When I switched from teaching kindergarten to third grade, it was like getting a totally new job! There were so many new lessons to learn and it felt exciting and scary but not at all boring. Kids are just figuring out their ideas about themselves and life and teachers get to help shape how they view themselves and the world. What a privilege and what a responsibility! 

What inspires me? I think of one of my students from last year- I will call him Pedro. With all of his heart, he wanted to learn to speak English. He worked so hard. Seeing him grow with confidence and in his English speaking, reading and listening was completely rewarding. 

I think of another student- I'll call her Jane. She walked in every morning with a bright smile and a warm greeting for me. She was like a sponge- soaking up every single thing I taught. 

Another student- let's call her Maria. Whenever I made a mistake (there were plenty!), she would say, "Your brain just grew, Mrs. Sokolowski!" with such sweetness. I always told my students that when you make a mistake, your brain actually grows. (True story.) 

I still get excited about planning new lessons. I still love getting to know a whole class of kids and going from relative strangers to family over the course of a year. I know there is more for me to learn and figure out, which makes teaching still stimulating and a place I can grow. As a teacher, I can pursue National Board Certification (maybe when my kids are older?) and Google Educator Certification. I can share with other teachers what I've learned through workshops and blog posts. Teaching is fertile ground for my soul to continue blooming. 

What do I love most about my work? I love that it's important and directly impacts children. I love that my interactions with students can maybe become a voice in their head saying "Mistakes are okay" or "I can do hard things". I love that books I read to them might become part of the fabric of their lives, just like James and the Giant Peach became part of me when my teacher read it aloud. I love that I get to design a classroom layout and curate a library that will help my students fall in love with reading. I love that I can show them possibilities for writing and creating and using words as a tool their whole life through. I love that my students might come to me thinking they are one type of kid and leave me knowing they are a different type of kid- a kid who is a writer, a reader, a creator, a brave learner. 

Teaching is full of heartaches and heartbreaks, but that is another post. Teachers are often made to feel voiceless, but that is a story for another day. Today, I am thinking about why I love to be a teacher and as I head into my 17th year of teaching, it's still the job for me. The students and the chance I have to make a positive difference in their lives....they are my why. They bring the inspiration and they are the reason I love my work. 


Comments

  1. Such great memories!
    Thank you for sharing -

    https://tammysreadinglife.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/its-your-story-sol18/

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  2. These are such good questions. I think teachers should revisit them each and every year. My answer may seem trite, but it's true, students. I teach for the students and I'm inspired by the students. Thank you for asking. Thank you for teaching!

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  3. So many reasons to love being a teacher, and I agree with Michelle: this is an important question to revisit each year. I also love that this is important work and that every day, it's possible to make a difference in someone's life, to bring a bit of joy, to offer grace.

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