This week’s article summary is Why I Stay in the Classroom.
I feel very fortunate to have found teaching as a profession.
After four years of college, I needed a break from formal studies, so I figured I take a gap year or two before graduate school and the school I had graduated from, losing a teacher right before the new school year began, gave me the opportunity to teach and coach.
Honestly, taking the position was more a lark—a chance to earn some beer money and scrimmage with varsity athletes. I had no prior teacher training or experience beyond having been a camp counselor, and the only classroom teaching method I knew was mimicking the teachers I had when I was a student. My only assets were I liked working with kids and had an intuitive feel about what middle school students needed to know and were interested in.
From the first few seconds of my first sixth grade English class, I knew teaching was my destiny! I was happy, fulfilled, and--even with growing pains and missteps—was pretty good at it.
But I consider myself even more fortunate that even after forty years in schools, I remain as excited and gratified by being in a school as when I was a naïve, inexperienced twenty-two year old. I’ve amassed a cavalcade of memories, laughed way more than cried, been inspired by mentors, influenced many students, and, most important to me, developed lasting relationships with colleagues.
For me, the article below accurately captures both the joys and challenges of being a teacher, yet reminds me that for most of us the good parts greatly outweigh the bad ones.
I’ve had the good fortune to work at schools with high morale, positive culture, and strong trust and respect among school employees, yet Trinity dwarfs the others in these areas. I am always thankful and never take for granted what it means for me to be a part of Trinity’s community. The past seven years have been the most enjoyable, meaningful, and impactful of my career! (My wife keeps asking me if my honeymoon with Trinity has ended and I always answer, “Not even close!”)
It’s my hope that all of you are as fulfilled as I am at Trinity! I am thankful for all you do and your impact on our students, their parents, and one another!
Enjoy Thanksgiving Break!
In choosing my career, I desired a field that I was passionate about. I wanted to change the world.
I chose teaching: As a teacher, you are not just a master facilitator of content knowledge. You are a mentor, confidant, and friend to your students and colleagues. You are a lifeline. I knew that with the amount of passion, dedication, and patience I possessed, I was the right candidate for the job. I can't say the road hasn't had its ups and downs but there are many components that helped me stay in the profession. For every teacher it may look different. Here is a glimpse of why I stay.
I Stay Because I Have Support: Many organizations and people supported me as I grew into the teacher leader I am today, challenging me to develop my own voice and expand my horizons. They have highlighted and recognized my accomplishments which stimulated me to continue to soar as a teacher. Colleagues and supervisors gave me the chance to lead inside and outside of my classroom walls and school community. Many diverse professional learning experiences allowed me to emerge from my comfort zone and try something different for my students. This supportive community of educators reassured me that I matter to the profession and to those who need me the most: my students.
I Stay Because of the Spark: My classroom is my center stage, and I understand the power that being in the classroom holds. The curriculum and standards drive the work that I do in my classroom, but I am willing to take risks to make learning fun and relevant to students. I bring innovative ideas into my classroom so students will be challenged to achieve at high levels. It is imperative to have autonomy in your classroom to create a spark of learning for students. The sparks I create for and with my students lend to authentic learning and those coveted "ah-ha" moments.
I Stay Because of My Colleagues: Over the years, I have learned that it is important for me to surround myself with other educators who want to advance in the profession for students and themselves. I call on these educators to hear their suggestions or ideas and to challenge me. This collaboration and collegiality builds a sense of community among professionals that keeps them excited about learning and growing.
The profession comes with its trials and tribulations. Everything does. But with a steady stream of support, a "practice what you preach" mentality, a love for creating those "sparks" for kids, and a network of collegiality, we can and will improve outcomes for students by attracting and retaining educators into the profession that I so love. Hopefully, they also are empowered to remain where they are needed most...in the classroom.