Every teacher devotes his or her life to education for reasons as individual to them as any other part of their identity. Still, it usually isn’t the money, and it isn’t the three-month summer vacation. Reasons for becoming a teacher are deeper than that, and while they are personal, they are almost all united by the desire to impact peoples’ lives. There is a demand for great teachers in this country, and a person is called to become a teacher in response to that need. So, what’s calling you? Why do you want to teach?
To Improve the Quality of Education
The demand for great teachers is a tangible pressing need. While our country has come a long way in education reform, we still have a long way to go. There are schools across America that are still in high need because of budgetary concerns and low teacher retention, and students still continue to drop out at alarming rates. One reason to become a teacher is to impact the education system. If you recognize the need to improve the quality of education in this country, then you may become a teacher to affect change. There is a lot of work to be done, but it is the collective effort of thousands of dedicated teachers that will make the most difference.
School administrators and government officials have an impact at the legislative level, but it is teachers who have a direct effect on students in the classroom --- that is, after all, where learning takes place. You won’t be able to improve the quality of education for every student in America, but you will be able to for your students. Helping just one student is worth it, but over a long and productive career, you have the chance to help thousands of students.
Essentially, becoming a teacher lets you take part in shaping the next generation.
To Give Back to Your Community
One of the reasons for becoming a teacher is to contribute to your community in a meaningful way. Teaching is one of the most direct ways to make an impact, and if you are driven by the desire to help those around you, being a teacher is an invaluable contribution.
Perhaps you grew up in a high-needs area and are personally connected to the struggle of students who come from low-income families and go to schools with little funding; this sort of perspective allows you to recognize how much of a difference a devoted teacher can make. Maybe an amazing teacher changed your life when you were younger, and you want to share that with a new generation of students. Many people cite a favorite teacher as a source of inspiration in their decision to pursue a career in education.
FEATURED ONLINE DEGREES AND SHORT COURSES
|Harvard’s Bok Center for Teaching and Learning||The 8-week Harvard Bok Teaching Certificate online short course is delivered by Harvard’s Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, in association with HarvardX. Students in this course will engage deeply with the most relevant research on effective teaching methods in the higher education context, while refining their own practices, portfolio, and teaching philosophy.|
|BehaviorAnalysis@Simmons||BehaviorAnalysis@Simmons is the highly respected Master of Science in Behavior Analysis program delivered online from Simmons College. The program prepares students for leadership roles in the rapidly growing field of applied behavior analysis.|
To Change the Lives of Students
Teachers do more than teach, and their impact extends far beyond the classroom. As a teacher, you are more than just an educator: you are a mentor, a confidant and a friend. One of the most common reasons to become a teacher is to make a difference in the lives of as many students as you can. Taylor Mali, a renowned poet, education advocate and former teacher, describes this impact in his spoken word poem, “What Teachers Make.” He says, “I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could, I make a C+ feel like a congressional medal of honor, I make an A- feel like a slap in the face ... I make parents see their children for who they are and what they can be ... I make a difference.”
Teachers have the potential to interact with students at all stages of development and from all walks of life. A great teacher wants to help students along this path and to play a part in shaping the person they will ultimately become. If you want to help a child struggling with low self-esteem and problems at home, then become a teacher to encourage them and help them realize their potential. Becoming a teacher lets you impart life lessons that they will never forget and puts you in a position to influence their decisions, behaviors, strengths, weaknesses and imaginations. Essentially, becoming a teacher lets you take part in shaping the next generation.
Men and women in college level teacher preparation programs, in addition to about a hundred other things they are required to do, almost without exception have to write a statement that describes why they want to be teachers. Some colleges call this the "why I chose teaching as a career" statement. Regardless of what it's called, the statement is really about the student's ability to describe the reasons for his or her choice, and sometimes, that's not an easy thing to do.
In many colleges and schools of education, this statement is included with the application for student teaching. In my role as adviser, I have read and edited many hundreds of such statements. It is obvious that education students sometime struggle to explain themselves and their choices, and often compose awkward statements they believe are what the readers want. It can be stressful and frustrating.
The statement below contains grammatically correct, substantive information that conveys, in a generic sense, what many education students try to express. If appropriate, use it for your own purposes, making the personal modifications you believe are necessary. I used the pronoun "he" in the statement only as a device. The use of "he" is certainly not meant to diminish women who might use the statement, but only to avoid awkward he/she verbiage. Please substitute the feminine pronoun "she" as appropriate. Notice that nowhere in the statement below does it say education was chosen as a career because of "loving kids." The reason? That is one of the most overworked, and increasingly meaningless phrases in the profession.
Dr. Bob Kizlik
Why I Chose Teaching as a Career
When one makes a decision about the work he will do in life, it is important that the decision be based on criteria that reflect his personal values, temperaments, experiences, and skills. My choice of teaching as a career was not made lightly; rather, it was the culmination of a process of reflection about what I wanted to do with my life and my education.
When I was a student in elementary, middle, and high school, as well as in college, I found myself paying attention to not only what was being taught, but also tohowmy teachers actually taught the lessons. It seemed to me then, and still does, that most of my teachers enjoyed what they were doing. Too young, and with no real context as an elementary school student to appreciate what my teachers personally derived from what they were doing, it wasn't until middle school that I began to think that I might want to be a teacher. Slowly at first, then more quickly, and with increasing clarity and depth, I began to visualize myself as a teacher.
The great teachers I have had throughout my education are my heroes and my role models. I began to understand more fully in high school and throughout my time as a college student that great teachers had skills I wanted to learn. I wanted to excel at the things in which they excelled, but I also experienced teachers who were not effective, and they too taught me something. From them I learned what I would not do or even try when I would someday become a teacher.I fully realized that to be a teacher is truly a calling of not just the mind, but the heart as well.
I saw that the great teachers were good at explaining content, were patient, yet firm with students, were always fair, set high expectations, knew how to motivate us, and used humor appropriately. They were excellent communicators who had a command of the subject-matter content they taught. I wanted to be like them, to be able to do what they could do, and yet I understood that I would have to forge my own style of teaching that would draw on my strengths, knowledge, skills, values and experiences. I have arrived at that point in my preparation, fully realizing I still have much to learn.
I have chosen education as a career because I believe that education is perhaps the most important function performed in our culture, or for that matter, any culture. I believe that teachers individually and collectively can not only change the world, but improve it, and in the process find personal and professional renewal. I want to be part of this noble profession, and someday to be counted among those in whom future preservice teachers found inspiration.