“You must have a LOT of patience.” “You are condemning yourself to a life of poverty.” These are just a few of the encouraging responses I’ve received when disclosing my future plans (if you can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic). No matter what negativity I encounter though, I am almost certain that my decision to pursue a teaching career is final. After all, my desire to be a teacher is driven by more than a salary and I certainly don’t expect it to be an easy job.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t at times admire luxuries like bright summery Lilly Pulitzer dresses, big white houses with swimming pools and wide-open backyards and silver Lexuses with sun-roofs — but living like a Barbie doll with fancy accessories will never give me as much joy as making a difference in a child’s life. I don’t lose a wink of sleep thinking about my future salary; I will make enough to live a comfortable lifestyle and be financially stable, all while giving the next generation the tools they’ll need to succeed and be happy in their own lives. At the end of the day, that’s what’s important to me and that’s what I will measure my own success by.
As a teacher, my job will never be about me. My motivation will not be money, status or power. My job will be to devote myself to my students. Over the course of my career, I will be instrumental in helping hundreds of students achieve their dreams which will hopefully include making the world a better place. Having the opportunity to make a living helping and enriching the lives of others is one that I simply can’t pass up. How many people can say they are changing the world for the better and still feeding their families?
No, teachers are not just babysitters who read stories and come up with craft ideas. Your kids are the next generation and if you want to see the world around you improve and become a kinder, safer, more inclusive place, it’s up to you to set your kids up for success. That’s where teachers come in: the lessons students learn in the classroom provide them with the tools they need to thrive not only in higher education and the professional world, but in their personal relationships, health, and life experiences. Teachers are an integral part of your child’s development into a respectful, considerate, confident, diligent and functioning member of society with much to contribute. I believe that a quality education is the difference between love and hatred, fear and confidence, ignorance and acceptance. Dedicated teachers have the power to inspire a generation to continue social and scientific progress.
Being a teacher means getting to build others up. I am not competing with or sabotaging anybody, rather, I am sharing my excitement for learning with students who will in return share with me their excitement for their own passions and interests. My success will be their success; the more confident they become with their creativity and problem-solving skills, the better a teacher I’ve been to them.
Teaching will allow me to advocate for the kids who don’t yet know where they belong. For the kids who are bullied, the kids who have disabilities, the kids who don’t have access to all the right resources and the kids who struggle academically — I get to be the one to set them on the path to success. I will have the power to give my students knowledge and confidence, even when the odds are stacked against them. They will grow up believing that they can do, create or be anything they can imagine, and it will have been with my help.
So no, I won’t be a millionaire. And yes — I will need a lot of patience and a love of children. I am not, however, in the least bit worried about being unhappy. I’ll get to see the figurative light-bulb turn on whenever a student learns a new concept. I’ll get to see students overcome challenges and come out stronger than ever. I’ll be there to witness students develop confidence and passion. Someday, hopefully, I will even get to see those same students use what they’ve learned in my classroom to improve our world.
Lead Image Credit: US Department of Education via Flickr Creative Commons