Friday, February 1, 2008

Why are you a teacher?

I've always wanted to be a teacher.

This is mostly true. There was a brief time where I thought I wanted to be a programmer instead, and some doubt in the middle of college. Otherwise? I've wanted to teach practically since I entered school.

I still remember, the summer before my younger-brother-by-3-years (I have 4 brothers) entered school, I made him come to two weeks of "school" with me. I don't really remember what I had him do, except that he had to spend 2 hours with me and what the chair he sat on looked like.

Since I can't even remember not wanting to be a teacher, I wonder about other people who teach. How did you realize you wanted to be a teacher? Did you doubt your career choice as a pre-service teacher, a newbie? Do you doubt it now? How do you deal with doubts? How did you decide that teaching beat out the alternatives you'd considered?


Ben Wildeboer said...

I didn't start college thinking I was going to go into teaching. My problem always has been that I find so many areas incredibly interesting that I have trouble picking what areas I should specialize in.

I found that I loved natural sciences, and most of all the natural Earth. I was very close to completing a geology program, but had an epiphany during one of my classes that made me decide that I really didn't want a geology career. We were studying geomorphology, discussing how you can learn about an area's freeze/thaw cycle by measuring the rate at which pebbles move up through the soil. I could just picture myself spending 30 years measuring pebble velocity through soil. At that point I decided that although I loved the geology, I didn't want to become a geologist.

After deliberating for awhile, I decided teaching would be a great fit. I want to work with people, I want to work with science, I want to do something where I feel I'm making a contribution to society, and I want to have a job where I can have fun. Once I thought of teaching, I couldn't think of anything else that matched up so well with what I really wanted out of a career.

Although it took me awhile to finally discover that I wanted to teach, I have had no doubts since then that it was the correct decision.

Penelope said...

"My problem always has been that I find so many areas incredibly interesting that I have trouble picking what areas I should specialize in."

A problem I can certainly sympathize with!

For myself, I just can't see any other job being as challenging and rewarding, with so much endless opportunity for growth. At the same time, sometimes every other job looks like it would be so much easier.

Ben Wildeboer said...

I agree that teaching has few rivals in the challenging, rewarding, and opportunities for growth areas.

What is interesting is how little benefit there really is for teachers to grow and become better. There's no real bonus for being a hard working teacher as opposed to a teacher that shows movies all day and walks out of the building 5 minutes after the final bell rings. I wonder if there's some method to set up a system that rewards hard working teachers who challenge themselves without being a primarily punitive system...

Penelope said...

It's a definite concern. I think there are ways, but they need to developed with teachers, not against them like most supposed "merit pay" schemes.

For me, though, external rewards would be like icing on the cake of "being satisfied that I'm not the worst teacher in the world because at least I keep working on it".