What I've Learned While Presenting...About Why We Teach

During one of my presentations, I included a “feedback card” that I asked the audience to fill out. I do this often, both for mine and the audiences amusement as well as to encourage that I get the feedback cards back. (People will often fill out the rest of the card as well and turn it in if they have something interesting to say about an off topic question, such as marriage advice for a newlywed.) The question in this case was “Why did you go into teaching?”

65% of people responded with something about “changing lives” “making a difference” or “helping kids”.

Not one person mentioned standardized tests. Nobody mentioned homework. Nobody mentioned “to punish kids.

I’m wondering, if we reflect upon this simple question and think about so many of the behaviors that have become common in our role as a teacher – how many of these behaviors are counter-productive to the mantras of “changing lives” “making a difference” and “helping kids”.

How do we go about doing this? I’m not sure – but I’d bet playing the blame game, distorting our gradebooks and focusing on a bunch of crap that has nothing to do with learning isn’t the answer. I’ve got my own ideas on how to go about changing lives – many of them I share on this website. Hopefully, you have your own ideas and I encourage you to share them as well.

Some of the responses below, again in no particular order, reflect the rhetoric too many teachers would use at a job interview as opposed to their true feelings on the subject. Some of the responses are inspiring…some alarming. Perhaps most telling of all….more people were willing to offer marriage advice on their feedback cards than were willing to answer the question “Why did you go into teaching?”

Enjoy the responses, hopefully you learn as much from them as I have. What do you say tomorrow we go back to trying to impact lives and help kids? They deserve it.

“Why did you go into teaching?”

  1. Loved science, started pre-vet and in college got into tutoring, decided I liked to help people understand science.
  2. I enjoy working with teenagers AND I enjoy math! Call me crazy!
  3. To help kids.
  4. I want to make a difference.
  5. To give back to this district what was given to me. I came here in third grade unable to read and the teacher here realized and taught me to read.
  6. Wanted to make a difference in kids lives.
  7. To help students in high school, because it’s a rough time!
  8. Wanted to positively make a difference in kids lives.
  9. To help students learn skills to be successful in life.
  10. I always enjoyed school. I had some really good teachers. I wanted to be that influence for children.
  11. Wanted to help kids. I love kids!
  12. I loved school!
  13. I changed from nursing to teaching. I love learning!
  14. Work with kids – help them learn.
  15. I always wanted to be a teacher. J I love it.
  16. Lots of teachers in my family and lots of great teachers who influenced me.
  17. I wanted to be a part of young people’s lives.
  18. To help influence students the way a few of my teachers did.
  19. Because I was born to do it.
  20. Taught other things, swim lessons, dance lessons, so wanted to continue teaching.
  21. Was tired of being in the bussiness I was working. Loved kids, wanted to make a difference and had worked as a para and knew I could teach.
  22. I wanted to make a difference in our world.
  23. Still trying to figure that out.
  24. High school is fun.
  25. To teach.
  26. To make a difference!
  27. I used to teach the other children in my neighborhood how to read but forgot about wanting to teach until my 20’s when a teacher friend of mine asked me to substitute. I liked it.
  28. Both of my parents were incredible teachers and changed many lives. They inspired me.