5 Reasons I Love Teaching
This school year has not had the smoothest of starts. It’s only September but I’m already Spring Break tired but you know I still love my job even if parts of it really suck right now. So, as a great reminder to myself and other educators out there, I’ve decided to tell you about five reasons why I love education and I’m going to do it through some of my favorite teaching stories of the last decade. I hope they make you laugh as much as I do every time I remember these kiddos.
Teaching keeps you humble.
Being a teacher is a great responsibility. You are literally molding the minds of tomorrow. You could crush a spirit or inspire a genius. You have so many opportunities to do so much which can seem pretty impressive. I mean this is the profession that creates all other professions. That can make you feel pretty special which is why the Lord allows students to keep you humble.
Once, I was talking with a group of kiddos who were all just getting their first cars which is a rite of passage I distinctly remember. They wanted to know what I drove in high school so I told them it was a 1996 Firebird, black with T tops and I pulled up a picture to show them how cool it was at which point a hand shot in the air. The question? “You mean your parents let you drive an antique?”
This isn't my car but it is basically what my car looked like... I still think it was cool!
Seriously, an antique? But then I realized that to them I am older than dirt and definitely not cool. When I explained that my car was only five years old and it would be like them driving a 2014 they all had a fit. “I knew you were old but I never realized you were THAT old.” Thank you, sir. I guess I’ll buy some Bengay and a walker on the way home.
Teachers never lose their curiosity.
I want my students to be curious and interested in the world around them. My kiddos know they can basically ask me anything and I will either give them the answer or help them find one. Some of my greatest joys come from the acquisition of knowledge. My Google search history is a testament to my curiosity. From basic definitions to pictures of plants. And song lyrics to shipwrecks. If I don’t know, understand or recognize something I want to find out. However, this spirit leads to some interesting conversations with my students. I’ve had students ask me about boys, the stock market, the Titanic and more but it’s when they’re nervous that I know they have a good one ready.
Last year, I was teaching a class that was made up of both, new students and students from previous years who were very comfortable with me. Now, we had only been in class for a few weeks when I overheard one of my former students telling one of the new kids “I promise you can ask her. She won’t think you’re weird. We discussed way stranger topics last year.” At this point they had my attention and I promised the girl that she could ask her question and I wouldn’t judge her. She finally whispers, “How do penguins have sex?” Of all the possibilities I dreamed up, that was not the question I was expecting but I told her I knew penguins were rumored to be monogamous and that they had courtship “rituals” and that birds typically had cloacas but I wasn’t sure if that is how they procreated or not. So, we looked it up and now we all know that yes, that is exactly how the process works.
In the end, I hope my kids never lose their wonder at the world around them and always have something they are interested in learning more about and I pray to God that they don’t go home and tell their parents they learned about penguin sex in their marketing class.
Teachers are always laughing.
One of the first lessons I had to learn as a teacher was to perfect my poker face. Students say and do some bonkers stuff and they don’t always mean for it to be funny but 9 times out of 10 it’s really hilarious. I’ve had so many of these crazy interactions that I keep a running list in my phone that I jokingly say will be the book I write in retirement. Here’s a few classic examples…
“Ms. Anglin, have you ever heard of a pedestrian?”
“What kind of religion is that?”
“Baby, I think you mean a Presbyterian.”
To a student I had for three years who I dearly loved but was extremely hyper on this day…
“Joe, if you don’t sit down I’m gonna send you to get tested.”
“Again?!? My mama tried that and they told her I was normal but she thinks the results were wrong.”
Not a week goes by that they don’t have me cracking up about something. They are young and excited and full of energy which is why they are lovable AND absolutely exhausting.
Teachers get to be part of many growth moments.
I love see my kids learn something new. I told you I want them to stay curious and I always want to help them be well-rounded and informed individuals, however, I find that they often arrive with some confusing ideas that need working out and I love when I get to be a part of that. As my mother always says, “I’m telling you this so you’re not stupid.” We all have things that we get a little twisted but some are more amusing than others…
“Ms. Anglin, have you noticed how many tv shows have an episode called “Pilot”. Don’t you think that’s strange?” This led into a discussion on the lexicon and how it develops over time.
Of course, I always have interesting “facts” come up when we discuss the various decades but this moment has to take the cake. As we go through each decade, we discuss popular culture, music, technology, inventions and more as a way to understand the business world of that time. At this moment we were discussing the 1970s, which is a favorite of mine because the music is a jam and we were watching a performance of one of my favorites, “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight and the Pips. As always, I asked the kids if they knew the group performing and one girl seemed very certain of herself. She informed the class that the classic performance we just witnessed was by none other than Gladys Knight and the PIMPS.
I think it was the large bow ties that did her in!
“That’s Gladys Knight and the Pimps.”
“No ma’am. The Pimps.”
“Actually, sweetheart, they’re called the Pips.”
“I don’t think so ma’am. Look at how they are dressed.”
Luckily, we headed right into the fashion of the decade, at which point she was convinced everyone in the 1970s qualified as pimps.
Teachers know that their students love them but their hearts are bigger than their brains.
Have you ever had someone try so desperately to help you but only cause mass chaos? Kind of like Dobby in the second Harry Potter story. Teaching teenagers is like teaching a room of very enthusiastic Dobbys. Unfortunately, they tend to be more enthusiastic about the non-school things than their academics.
For example, a teacher’s love life, or lack-there-of, is of utmost importance to students. I obviously don’t overshare but kids always ask if I’m married or have kids and often this topic comes up when discussing target markets or how insurance beneficiaries work so I’ll gladly answer basic questions because let’s be honest, I have no juicy details anyways. However, I learned my first year teaching that, just as I viewed my students as my responsibility, they viewed me the same way. I was teaching a class that was predominately girls and they were very concerned that I was single and felt it was their job to rectify this situation to my utter horror. More than once they came running into the class to inform me that there was a “hot sub” down the hall that they thought I should talk to as if that was professional but I swear every time I peeked out it was a guy I knew from high school and I was mortified that they were going to play matchmaker.
Soooo embarrassing but the moment that takes the cake was the one in which I realized I needed to “lock” all social media. I had a class that was desperate to find me a boyfriend and while I assured them I was not interested in their help and enjoying my life they felt my answer lacked enthusiasm. So, apparently, all the girls got together one weekend and went through my Facebook friends, narrowed it down to all the single men in the age range they deemed appropriate and then filtered through said men until they had a top ten list of who they thought I should date from best to worst. I couldn’t help but laugh and thank the good Lord that they didn’t feel moved by the Spirit to message one of these hapless hunks. See, I’m not very tech savvy and it never occurred to me that anyone would want to look at my Facebook profile so I had never considered the privacy settings. (Don’t worry I fixed that immediately!)
What I loved about this is how sincerely they approached their mission of finding me a date and I have to say they did a better job matching me with fellows than any dating website I’ve ever been on and they literally walked in on Monday morning with a numbered list and these dudes names. I’m not sure which circumstance was more amusing. The fact that they felt my love life was that pitiable or that the most interesting thing they had to do on the weekend was sift through my Prince Charmings. I guess I should be flattered to garner so much love but talk about a panicky situation!
In the end, I love being a teacher for a million reasons that don’t concern curriculum or pacing guides or lesson plans. I have no doubt that this is my mission field which is truthfully the only reason I’m still here but it’s these memories, and a million more like them, that keep me smiling through the tears and working through the night because I ultimately love these kiddos more than I can say!