What’s your “Why”?

“Why do you want to be a teacher?” is a question I feel I have to answer way too often. It is often followed by some idiotic remark about how I will never make enough money, or something along those lines.

While comments like these can get annoying, the question is a very valid question: “Why do you want to be a teacher?”

I believe, for a teacher to truly be successful in their career, they need to know why.

Why are you going to school an extra year (or more) to get your teaching credential?
Why are you taking 16 weeks off of work to be an unpaid student teacher?
Why are you choosing to take a smaller salary than your time is worth?
Why do you choose to be in a classroom with a bunch of snotty kids who aren’t yours?

If you cannot answer these questions, you should not waste your time to become a teacher. (And, no, your answer may not include getting weekends and summers off… Because, as any working teacher could attest to, that is simply not true.)

Personally, I have wanted to be a teacher since I was in the 2nd grade. This may have started out because it was the only real profession I had been introduced to at the time, but I believe it is because God let me in on his secret to my future early.

When I was in high school, I had many teachers who really impacted my life, as many of us do. But, I had one teacher in particular, Mr. Bean, who really grabbed my attention and had me focus on my future. He was my AVID teacher for all four years of high school, and he was the one who kept me accountable at school. He forced me into the harder classes that none of my friends would be in. He took us to college campuses to see where we felt we belonged. He helped me fill out college applications and fill out my FAFSA for my freshman year of college. Mr. Bean was the teacher who saw the potential for greatness in me that I did not even see in myself. That is why I want to be an educator: I want to show my future students what they are worth.

I want to be the person who helps students realize their full potential. I want to feel that each day I come to work and am making an impact on who my students become and assist them on their way to success. I want to know that my existence made a difference.

However, I know that everyday will not leave me feeling so whole. And this is where I remind myself of the significance of my job. The need to be resilient when trouble arises, or I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Within my teaching experience, there have been times where I felt all of my work and effort was not paying off. The students seemed uninterested, their assessment scores were stagnant, and the days seemed to drag on. These are the times where it is necessary for the teacher to meditate on your “why”. Some people meditate by taking a walk; some may close their eyes and breath; some pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance; some may even listen to music and have a solo dance party. Whatever your case may be, allow yourself to leave your anxious thoughts behind, because you will not be able to lead your classroom with anxious thoughts in your head or heart.

My educational philosophy began taking its shape when I was first enrolled in school. However, it was not until I was in my undergrad, at San Diego State University, that I realized how impactful and significant my job is for the lives of so many different people. I realized that this is not just a job, but it is a way of life that not many can adapt to. It requires a person to be multifaceted. You must be nurturing, yet a disciplinarian. You must be intelligent, yet not to hardened. You must be critical, yet in the most compassionate way possible.

Furthermore, my educational philosophy began to define itself more once I began my postgraduate work as Azusa Pacific University. These classes really opened my heart to understanding how faith can be intertwined with education. I was taught that these two entities had to be separate, because we cannot force children to participate in any sort of faith-based curriculum in school. However, I never realized how my faith could help me to become a more empathetic and loving teacher. Now, I have come to understand that my faith does not need to be situated in my curriculum’s courses, but the way I approach the curriculum can be done with the Christian worldview in mind.

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