A new school year is upon us. As I sit here and think about the year to come, I reflect on what makes teaching great. There are bad days, like with any career, but I am so glad I fell into it. See, I didn’t know this was my path. In previous posts, I’ve talked about the dream to be a traveling musician. I never once thought about being a teacher, even though I had two parents in the profession. Boy am I glad it found me. Here are my top 3 reasons I love teaching.
Lifelong Learner– Stop now if you’ve heard this term a few too many times. Many times it is thrown around to apparently “motivate” those to continue to search for more. I honestly think that the term itself may have a negative connotation for many. They may feel it as a burden. I define it as something remarkable.
The cool thing about teaching is you get to see this in action from multiple perspectives. As a teacher, we are always working to improve our lessons. We are working to find cooler ways to present the material. Maybe reaching out to other teachers in our subject matter to ask for any new apps they are using. Creating new assessments to drive home the material. Staying up late watching others teach. It happens organically. What it does allow me to do is to continually look at tweaking my teaching. Sometimes that can be maddening. It can paralyze me in certain moments. The thing is, I feel better on the other side. I know I can continually be better.
It is amazing to watch students become this life long learner without even knowing it. They may complain through certain tasks, but occasionally there is that light that turns on. It pushes them to ask more questions. It gives them an idea for a new club to lead. It makes them research colleges that specialize in this new passion. That is a beautiful thing to experience. It’s extremely motivating. It fuels me as their teacher.
I had a student a few years ago that liked music. At the time, he didn’t realize how important music was to him. He decided to do his personal project on the need for music education in high school. It was a very well produced documentary. I was impressed. He now attends USC and has been writing and producing his own music for two years. If you asked him as a 10th grader if he thought he’d be doing that in 4 years he would’ve laughed. That’s the beauty in being a life long learner, you usually end up finding your passion.
Sharing My Passion– Great transition, right? This is what got me into this crazy career to begin with. I always loved music and saw a need at a school that I was coaching at. It was not my plan to fall into teaching, but it happened. And it has been great!
I am able to share my love of music and the performing arts to many students throughout their middle school and high school careers. I try to give them as many opportunities that I can to realize their own passion within the arts. There are times that I am worn down and tired, but the reality is it is so worth it.
I get to see kids realize their potential within an art form that they would’ve never expected. I get to see students continually step out of their comfort-zone to become risk takers. I see them shine in their own spotlight. I see parents, family, and friends come away amazed at what their student achieved through a performing art. It is a truly amazing.
The Students– I left this one for last because I believe it’s the top reason. See, when I first started out my post graduate life I worked in a few different fields, primarily dealing with adults. It’s not that I don’t like working with adults, I just know that working with students is better…in my opinion.
It may seem weird, but I think of the students as my coworkers. I am almost like a supervisor, helping guide their inquiry. I love receiving feedback from students. It’s probably because they are almost always honest. To a fault. This feedback helps me drive the learning. It helps me want to do more. It helps me continue to be that life long learner.
I also love giving control to my students. I want them to find something within the subject that they are passionate about and run with it. That is how we first started doing musicals at Westlake. That is how we went to our first one act play competition. That is how our program has grown into something more. The students are the key.
I leave you with these quick reminders:
Continually Learn & Grow– No matter your career, look for other individuals that can help motivate you to be more. Research your career and look at classes and tools that can help sharpen your skillset. Never settle!
Find & Share Your Passion– This is a key to happiness. You need to find a career that fulfills you. One that allows you to share your passion to others. One that helps you be your true self. One that is in lockstep with your PASSION!
Coworkers Matter– I know you all won’t want to work with students. I realize I may be half crazy for preferring it. No matter who you work with, get to know them. Connect with them on a personal level and I guarantee your work life will become better. And you will be more productive. And you will enjoy life more!