Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why Do I Continue Teaching?

studentsIn Why I continue teaching…  Paul Bogush shares,

“I see many folks coming into teaching never have experienced that feeling of autonomy, of trust, that feeling that they can create powerful learning experiences for their kids without the district or state giving them plans and telling them exactly what to do.  What I especially see, are teachers who have never experienced excitement in school as a kid.  Test prep is all they have ever known.  Standardization is all they have ever known.  Decisions have always been made for them.”

This was very powerful for me! It made me reflect about my reasons for teaching. Five years ago, I retired from teaching in public school. Now I teach on the university level, give presentations at conferences, and offer professional development seminars at schools. Everyone asks me constantly why I continue teaching since I retired.

I feel the need to share my passion. Teaching was not just a hobby or a career but a dream come true for me. Once I achieved the goal of becoming a teacher, each year as I saw positive changes in my students, they fueled my desire to stay a teacher. Yes, I faced frustration with administration, paperwork, and testing but it was all about the students. They were people and unpredictable. They were also a priority over the administration, paperwork, and testing. Like Paul, I’m not sure the new generation understands this concept. They seem to talk the talk but not necessarily walk the walk and seem to just be giving lip service to the powers that be.

As I was growing up, fairy tales were passed on to children. I remember having people read them to me until I could finally read them to myself. I see movies being made of some of these fairy tales. Unfortunately the joy and passion of teaching feels like it is becoming a fairy tale. I want to make this a reality for the teachers of today. I want them to see beyond the mechanics of teaching and get down to the real life impact they are making. Teachers today are getting too bogged down with the mechanics that they are missing the joy.

That is why I continue to teach. I want to share the passion of teaching. If I can help teachers get below the surface of teaching and get down deep into nitty gritty, they will see the joy. Maybe this will help society keep teachers more than five years. Maybe they will grow deep roots and stick with this honorable profession. I refuse to give up. I refuse to let politics, the burden of heavy paperwork, the ridiculous policies that stifle teacher creativity, and the absurdness of regulations made by people who don’t have a clue, stop me from sharing the joy of teaching.

If you are a teacher, please share why you continue to teach, either in the comment section or in your own blog (just send me the link so I can read it!). Please share.

Image: '9:15 AM-Students Reading and Working on Seatwork'
Found on


John Romig said...

Great post, Pat! I think you hit the nail on the head with so many teachers today. From a younger teacher's perspective, I don't think it is necessarily an age or generational issue, although I would probably say that more young teachers fall intocleaning this category. I see many mid career and older teachers who I feel have lost the joy of teaching.
In my opinion for someone to enter the teaching profession in the first place they must have some grain of a passion for learning and teaching others to learn. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just can't see a lot of other reasons to become a teacher. The challenge for today's teachers is to remember why they entered the field and not get distracted by all the things around them.

PD said...

I am going to be a teacher in a relatively short time period, and I want to make sure that I can give my students something to relate to in real life from my lessons. For example, I was observing a global history lesson on China today, and it led into a discussion on China's place in the world today. Considering China's status in the global economy, it is important for the students to be aware of this, and the teacher in this lesson transitioned nicely. This, along with actual every day impact, is how I hope to teach. But, as we all know, the standards and testing are real, as are the "flavor of the month" teaching method. The teacher I had been observing has been teaching for nearly 30 years, so there wasn't as much pressure for strict standards teaching as there would be for someone like me. With that, how can a younger teacher like myself be able to work these kinds of lessons into the class to give them something to use in real life, while at the same time being able to keep administrators off one's back by getting what needs to be done accomplished? Unfortunately, test taking and "the formula of teaching" need to be paid attention to for younger teachers to keep their jobs, even though I feel like I greatly relate with the passion aspect of this post. Maybe they have similar views to me. Maybe they are passionate, but desperately need the paycheck.

Pat Hensley said...

@PD I believe that you can be creative enough to fit the standards into your interesting and relevant lessons. This takes time, energy, and perseverance. Instead of just letting the administration spoon feed you their cookie cutter lessons, find the strategies that work for you. I truly believe that it can be done. Unfortunately for many who are tired (physically and emotionally), it is easier to take the easy route. Good luck to you and feel free to use me as a resource!

Stacy Schwab said...

I teach because I can. I've been given a special gift, and it is my responsibility to share it with others. It's the second hardest thing I've ever done (parenting is the hardest), but I can't see myself doing anything else. I love my work and the satisfaction I get from showing a child he can do something new. I've wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember, and I thank heaven every day I get to step into my classroom and live my dream. Do I ever lose perspective and get bogged down in the bureaucracy of teaching in a large inner-city school district? Sure, but for the most part I am just out there doing what I love, because I CAN. Read about my trials and successes at

Pat Hensley said...

@Stacy Schwab Thanks for your comment! I'm so glad there are teachers out there like you! I have also added your blog to my google reader.