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.
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.
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.