Why be a teacher? Some answers are:
- to witness the diversity of growth in young people, and their joy in learning
- to encourage lifelong learning—both for yourself and for others
- to experience the challenge of devising and doing interesting, exciting activities for the young
There is, of course, more than this to be said about the value of teaching. Consider, for instance, the "young people" referred to above. In one class they could be six years old; in another, they could be sixteen, or even older. They could be rich, poor, or somewhere in between. They could come from any ethnic background. Their first language could be English, or something else. There are all sorts of possibilities. But whoever the particular students are, they have potential, talents, and personal qualities that can contribute to society, whether as leaders, experts, or supporters of others. A teacher's job is to help students to realize their potential.
Whatever you teach, you will be able to feel the satisfaction of designing and orchestrating complex activities that communicate new ideas and skills effectively. Your students will depend on your skill at planning and managing, though sometimes without realizing how much they do so. Teachers will need you to know how to explain ideas clearly, to present new materials in a sensible sequence and at an appropriate pace, to point out connections between their new learning and their prior experiences. Although these skills really take a lifetime to master, they can be practiced successfully even by beginning teachers, and they do improve steadily with continued teaching over time. Right from the start, though, skill at design and communication of curriculum is one of the major "perks" of the job.
The complexity of classroom life virtually guarantees that teaching never needs to get boring. Something new and exciting is bound to occur just when you least expect it. A student shows an insight that you never expected to see— or fails to show one that you were sure he had. An activity goes better than expected. You understand for the first time why a particular student behaves as she does, and begin thinking of how to respond to the student's behavior more helpfully in the future. And so on. The job never stays the same; it evolves continually and leaves a lasting impact in the life of your students.
Take a minute to reflect and answer this question, why do you teach?