Most teachers love teaching. But not all teachers teach for the same reasons. Teaching is a difficult, challenging, time consuming, exhausting, sometimes discouraging, often frustrating, and at the same time wonderful endeavor. Think about whom you are working so hard for. Choose from the list below, or add to it, then leave your comment stating why below.
The Students are perhaps the most obvious response. Teachers have a need to fill a need and the students bring their needs to class everyday. Students bring their need to learn, to be recognized, and to be cared about. Most compassionate people are moved by the innocents' need to be supported in many different ways. And there is a great deal of satisfaction to be gained by participating in the improvement of another individual.
Some teachers teach for the parents of the students they teach. You might not agree at first, but in the end, who are our clients? The kids? Well, sort of, but really it’s their parents. The parents decide where the child goes to school. The parents complain to the teachers, or the principals, or the newspapers when schools fall short. And the parents pay the taxes that ultimately pay our salaries (if working in a publicly funded school).
No tenured teacher would willing admit it, but we do answer to our administrators. The administration of most schools consists of the educational leadership of the campus. In addition to providing support for the teachers, they also work with curriculum, scheduling, textbooks, and other needs teachers require to do their jobs. If the administrators are not happy, the teachers are often not happy.
Be honest. Getting paid to teach is a huge motivator. Some days I still can’t believe I get paid to do what I love. You can bet that if teachers didn’t get paid, they wouldn’t teach. As much as I love teaching, I could not afford to teach for free. Where I work in California teachers get paid fairly well, not so for many other states. In some states teachers need two or three teaching jobs to pay their bills. But teach they do.
The Individual (You)?
Teachers have a deeply personal need to teach. It’s not always the same need, but it is close to the core of who they are as people. Maybe it’s part of our DNA? There is an undeniable motivator that keeps us going to class everyday, dealing with the classroom management issues, staying up late correcting student work, and other challenges that most “normal” people would reject out of hand.
I teach for all of these reasons (cheap answer, I know, but let me explain why). I enjoy spending time with students while they are actively engaged in the discovery and learning process. I feel like the time I devote to teaching people to be better people is time well spent and a positive contribution to the world around me. I also teach for the parents. Being a parent I am sympathetic to the needs and desires of parents to ensure that their children receive a worthwhile and useful education. It’s important to me to be accountable to the guardians of my pupils. In addition, I teach for my administrators. Not only because my administrators are responsible for my evaluations, but also because they are the “educational leadership” of the campus, and if I do not follow their leadership then I am not being an obedient servant. While I am in no way completely satisfied with the leadership of my administration, I am thankful for their efforts and their support to my students, my classroom, and me. I recognize their efforts and share their overall vision for student success. Having a large family I also appreciate getting paid to work. Teaching pays me just enough to stay in teaching and not seek employment in the “real world.” Plus working as a teacher feeds my pathos. I will not deny that I need to teach as much as the students I teach need me to educate them. Honestly, I am afraid that I would be miserable in any other profession, and I am in no hurry to find out.
Teaching gives me a great feeling of personal satisfaction and puts meaning into my life. That’s important to me. Others may be able to detach from their professions, but being a teacher is huge part of how I define myself. I teach for me.