A brief conversation took place between a former student (now a freshman in college) and myself on Facebook today. With some editing to protect privacy, it went like this:
Student – The fire alarm would go off right before I decide to go to bed.
Me – Better than right after!
Student – Suddenly a fire alarm before bed doesn’t seem so bad.
This, in a nutshell, is why I teach.
I teach to help young adults understand ideas and concepts that they wouldn’t understand without guidance. I teach to point out different perspective or different methods of examining an issue, question, or problem. I teach to push my students to think in ways that they didn’t know they could. I teach to prove to students that humans are fallible and that, as humans, they are fallible. I teach to help young people find themselves and find where they fit in the world, what they are capable of contributing, and how they can achieve their dreams. Teaching is a pleasure, a joy, and an honor.
Every so often people learn that I’m a high school teacher and tell me, “I couldn’t do what you do!” As I continuously emphasize to my students, we all play to our strengths. I would make a terrible accountant, doctor, engineer, construction worker, cashier, hairdresser, office manager, etc. None of that matters, though, because I have been told by colleagues, parents, and students that I am a “damn good teacher,” which is precisely what I want to be.
No one is good at everything but everyone is good at something. This is an aspect of life that we learn as we get older, when we realize that not everyone will end up on TV, in the movies, on the front of book jackets, or making millions. As we get older and have more experiences, we, as humans, learn to put our efforts where we feel we can be both happy and successful.
I teach in order to help my students feel comfortable with that reality.