Why do we do it?

Why do we teach?

We could probably get jobs where the prestige is greater.  I hear that there are jobs where secretaries and support people make copies, staple things, collate them, even recycle stuff.  Some people work in places with gourmet lunch kitchens. I know people who get big bonuses twice a year. In dollars.

We could work in places where you don’t have to sit on the floor, referee touch football games in 85 degree heat, wipe noses, put on bandaids or hold the bucket when children throw up their chicken nuggets.

Why do we teach?

Sometimes the ever changing curriculum packets, new programs, revamped tests, local laws, state laws, federal laws, and lack of funding make us want to run away and join the circus, but we still come back every morning and we do it again.

So, why?

I’ll tell you why.

This was the first week of school, and my students filled out questionnaires and left me notes in my mailbox.  Here is a sample of some of their comments.

“Please complete these sentences.  I hope Karen will……”

I hope Karen will stay nice, like she is.  I hope she won’t get mad.

I hope Karen will be a friendly teacher.

I hope Karen won’t leave Room 303.

“I am worried about…..”

I’m worried about math; I’m not so good at it.

I’m worried about making friends.

I’m worried that Karen will get meaner.

“I want to learn more about….”

How to avoid being roughed up by bullies. It doesn’t hurt to take precautions!


Baking; I love cake.


And I got these unsolicited notes, accompanied by a lot of giggles.

Dear Karen, you look kinda strict and crabby, but you’re not!  I’m glad!

Dear Karen, my Mother says she loves you because you think kids should play and not just do homework. (By the way, I agree.)

Dear Karen, I love how you walk. It makes me joyful.

Dear Karen, you are awesome! You don’t seem like you would yell a lot.

Dear Karen, I love that we can write you notes.  And I can’t believe you read them!

I don’t know what some of them are trying to say, exactly, but they make it perfectly clear that all they need to make them happy is someone who doesn’t yell at them, scare them or make them feel bad about themselves.  They want someone who laughs.

They want someone who listens.

That’s why we teach!


10 responses to this post.

  1. Today was our “meet and greet”, and what a brilliant bunch of beautiful children! I am so lucky and honored! This year is going to be wondrous!


    • Isn’t it so great to start on a fresh, new year? How lucky the kids are to have a teacher like you who truly understands what a privilege it is to teach. Have a wonderful start up!


      • Thanks! I’ve truly enjoyed reading your insights, and I especially appreciate your humor. Please keep posting, as I’ll be checking my Reader regularly. Smiles!

  2. We’ve had some great teachers. I know they put up with a lot. I go in the classrooms and I see kids who misbehave, parents who haven’t a clue, kids who are in bad places in life. Teachers see a lot. They do a lot. I am thankful every year that my kids love their teachers and spend the day with someone who tries to make a difference in their life. So thank you!

    And I agree, kids need play and they like to laugh and they can still learn while doing it.


    • You’re welcome!
      I am incredibly lucky to teach in a wonderful district, with lots of support. Sometimes the stuff outside of the classroom gets me crazy, but I consider myself truly blessed to have a job that I love. If I can stay healthy, I’ll teach till I drop.


  3. And that is why you’re a great teacher — because you care…


    • I always feel like I’m fishing when I post these things….well, maybe I am a little! Thanks for meeting my needs, and giving me that reassure that the job doesn’t always give!


      • You’re welcome, but I wasn’t just stroking your ego. Several years ago I read about a study that was done to evaluate “good teaching”. First they looked at results (ie, test scores), then at children’s attitudes toward learning. Finally they looked at teaching methods. They found that there was only one thing in common amongst teachers whose students learned because they liked to learn: love. The teachers all had different teaching “methods”, but each and every one of them loved to teach.

      • Oh, do I wish I could see that study!! Any ideas where or by whom? I know a whole boatload of bureaucrats, er….”administrators”..who need to read it!

      • It’s been too long. (I couldn’t tell you what I ate yesterday.) I’m not even sure if it was in print on on 60 Minutes, but a search should turn it up. I do remember that the story featured a black female teacher in a school up North (which for us southerners is anything above Oklahoma!). I think they also compared private schools, public schools, and “magnet” schools.

        Sorry. My brain’s a pile of mush…

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