Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why I Teach

There are those moments, though few, when the parent emails arrive and the politics arise, that I feel like I need to re-evaluate why I do what I do and what exactly it is that I am. And then there are the good moments, and the good days, where I forget the emails, I forget the politics and I think of the kids; I remember who I need to be and often, who I am:

I am a talent scout,

I am a life coach,

and I am a character builder.

I teach acceptance,

I teach responsibility,

I teach empathy,

and somewhere along the way, I teach English.

I teach for the kids who don't have a mom or who don't have a dad. I teach for the kids who have to walk two or three miles home or take the city bus for an hour to get home. I teach for the kids who, when they get home, no one is there. When students leave my room, I want them to KNOW that I cared about who they are now and who they will be in the future. I try to take a genuine interest in their outside activities and make an effort to use examples in my lessons that parallel these activities. I realize the importance and need to connect with my student first before they can connect to the curriculum. I often remind myself of 1 Peter 4:10-11 in my teaching:

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” (NIV)

I remind myself that God should be glorified in my teaching. I am not perfect, I make mistakes, and I will fail at times, but with God’s guidance and His glorification as my goal, I just might make some right choices too.

I have learned, in my limited experience, that teaching is not about the essay. It is not just about the test or getting the ‘A.’ It is not just about the academic lessons -- it is about the life lessons. I want my students to know that they are accepted in my class. Maybe that is achieved by encouraging the quiet students to join the club or be a part of the group; maybe it is by motivating the less academic students to use their art or speaking talent in my class, highlighting their strengths, and making them feel like an expert in something that shows them their potential.

Because, sometimes it only takes one person to believe in you to change your world.

So, when the end of the quarter comes and the parent and student emails begin and they ask me why I ‘gave’ certain grades or could I please give them some last minute extra credit? I remind myself:

It’s not about the essay.

And it’s not about the ‘A.’

School is just as much about life as it is about academics.

And so

I will continue to teach character.

I will continue to teach kindness,


Hard work,


Love and


And somewhere along the way, I will also teach English.


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