Why I Love Teaching
By Kristy Nerstheimer
As we count down the final days of school, I always like to stop and reflect. Yes, I am tired and probably looking a little haggard but, man, I really love my job. And I am not just saying that because June and July are around the corner! Teaching truly is a wonderful profession and here’s why, in case you need alittle reminding.
Students: The students are my favorite part of this gig. They make me smile everyday. I laugh at the funny things they say and love it when they giggle with delight. I tear up at the random acts of kindness I see a student do for a classmate. I love seeing them work hard and feel pride when mastering concepts. I love their energy and they always keep me on my toes. Kids are unassuming, honest, and forgiving. To me, they are pure joy and make my heart full. Even the most challenging students teach me things I never thought I was capable.
Families: I’m not sure who I love more between my students or their families. I enjoy creating a bond and partnership with my families. They often come back year after year to keep me updated which I love! For one year, I become an important part of their lives. I’m talked about at the dinner table, in the car, and with friends and relatives. I might sound like an Olive Garden commercial, but I tell my families when you are in Mrs. N’s class, you are like family and I mean it! I am fortunate because I live close to my school, so I often run into families at the grocery store, local high school games, etc. (Important note: on certain grungy days, I shop across town!). Overall, being a part of the community in which I teach gives me a greater sense of purpose.
Growth: The academic and social growth I see in my students each year is amazing. Over the course of approximately 175 days, I watch my students go through a remarkable transformation. Some students may enter my classroom speaking little to no English and by the end of the school year are happily conversing with friends on the playground. Other students come with no reading skills and are reading chapter books in May. Some students enter the year having experienced a traumatic event but have preserved and can now properly work through their emotions. The fact that I have played a role in their achievements is what it’s all about: giving a quality education with best practice teaching!
Creativity: Teachers are some of the most creative people on the planet: artists, writers, mathematicians, musicians, athletes, actors, scientists, just to name a few! I love bouncing ideas off of my coworkers to make learning more engaging and fun. Together we have come up with many wonderful lessons, units, and experiences in order to create a valuable and memorable experience for our students. Sometimes I honestly feel like I am center stage giving a theatrical performance to my audience (my students). I sing, I dance, and I’ve even been known to crawl across the floor to demonstrate a concept. Being able to be creative on a daily basis fulfills a side of me that keeps things fresh and enjoyable.
Lifelong Learner: What’s just as much fun as teaching? Learning! And I get to do it all the time. The only constant in education is that it continually changes. As educators, it is up to us to keep current with the latest educational topics and research. If you have been in the classroom long enough, you start to see concepts circle back and we think, I’ve been teaching that for years! Yet, when it circles back it’s usually better than before. I equate this to fashion: flare jeans are back (yea!) but they change the style just enough that you wouldn’t want to pull your old ones out from the 70s because the new version is so much better. As educators, we need to trust the research and be willing to implement new strategies and curricula.
Schedule: Everyone knows that teachers work late, bring home bags of projects and papers to grade, and usually work over the summer or engage in professional development. But, ya’ll our schedule rocks! Seriously, we get off work early enough to get to the bank before it closes, have a late afternoon doctor’s appointment, or get a workout in all before the dinner hour. We get almost two weeks off over the holidays, a week off during the spring, and two months off in the summer. Since we are lifelong learners, we are always “working.” But we have freedom in our schedule during this time to choose what will work best for us and our families. As a mom, it has been wonderful to be on the same schedule as my children, it has made family time all the more enriching.
As you come to the end of your school year, I hope you can look back and reflect on the positive side of the profession. Teaching is hard work and often draining. But we are changing the world, people, one student at a time. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! I salute you, my fellow educators!