As we approach the close of a school year, we, as teachers and administrators, reflect on “the questions of all questions.” Why teach? Whether it is planning for your next school year or interviewing a potential teacher for your school, that question always seems to be the focal point of the discussion. I ran across this picture during my daily tweeting fix. “Why teach?” Here’s my opinion. We teach because we call our students “my kids” both past and present; we teacher because it is about the outcome, not the income; we teach because it is our passion, our calling.
Every teacher uses the phrase, “Those are my kids.” Before administration, I was a junior high band director for 7 years in Kosciusko, Mississippi. We had over 300 members in the band program. Those teaching years were some of my best times, teaching kids not only to play an instrument but also to make good choices in their life. I had high expectations for all “my kids.” For me, there was one class that I will always cherish. To this day, I still call them “my kids.” I was fortunate enough to have them from 6th grade through 8th grade band. I even was fortunate enough to see them graduate from high school, pursue college or professional careers, and give back to this world. They were truly a great class. They always pushed themselves, and they pushed me. Many of them went on to be lawyers, doctors, teachers, and engineers. To this day, I still call them, even grown and in the professional workforce, “my kids.”
No teacher ever goes into teaching for the money, unless you live in Finland or China where they value the educational training like the U.S. does with doctor degrees. So, why teach then if the money isn’t there? Here’s what my dad said after switching my major from engineering to education during my freshman year at Mississippi State. “You are going to have to find other sources of income to support you and your family. There is no money in education.” While my dad may have a point to make about the teaching salary, I believe that educators pursue teaching not for the income but for the outcome. There are so many success stories that arise from teaching students. From elementary to middle school and through high school, to me, there is no price tag set on a student attaining academic or social success. Teachers teach for the “ah-ha” moment when students make that connection in class. Teachers celebrate when a student realizes how to solve a social problem through making better choices.
It has been said that passion drives persistence. I chose teaching not to continue playing drums or rehearsing band literature. I chose teaching because I wanted to give “my kids” an opportunity to express and develop their musical talents. That challenge drove me to really give my all to the profession. When I advanced my calling to administration, I realized that I could still impact a student’s life. Now, I could impact other set of lives, teachers. I love reading articles, blogs, and books on how to become a better leader. I share my reflections and literature with the teachers so that they can improve their talents, which will in turn drive their passion to teach.
I consider myself a teacher and a learner. My daily motto and hashtag on twitter is to #maketodaycountjkg. Every day, I come to my school help students and teachers. I call them “my kids, my teachers.” I continue this journey for outcomes. I believe in servant leadership because I love helping others achieve and succeed. That’s passion. What’s yours?