I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought about quitting the teaching profession. There are days when I feel burnt out and exhausted, but there are also some really amazing reasons I stay.
I love learning.
When I was in college, I still wasn’t sure what career I ultimately wanted to devote my life to. I enthusiastically switched majors maybe four or five times because I kept discovering new fields I wanted to learn about. I simply enjoy the act of learning something new, and I try to do it as often as possible. Of course, some things I get the hang of more easily than others, but my setbacks don’t seem to hamper my curiosity. I appreciate that I have a job where I am constantly learning, whether it is new content knowledge, new technology, or new teaching methods.
I have autonomy.
I know that not all teachers can say they have autonomy in their classrooms; whether it is due to state testing requirements, bureaucratic regulations, or school mandates, lack of autonomy drives many teachers to quit. Where I currently teach, I am able to update or change the curriculum (as long as I teach the required skills) because the leadership at my school trusts teachers to do so. Having this level of autonomy is what drew me to the school in the first place. I do not have to teach the exact same thing in the exact same way as another teacher. I enjoy being able to find my groove and spend as much time as I see fit on the topics I am passionate about. On days when the energy level in my classroom is high, I can switch things up and play a game. If a lesson falls flat, I can try a new strategy.
I want to have a positive impact.
There is truth to the old cliché that teachers make a difference. When I decided to enter the profession, I knew I wanted a job where I did something good for the world. There is no feeling like introducing a student to a book that becomes their favorite, or guiding a student on a research project that influences their career path. It is amazing how much a little encouragement and guidance can affect a young person.
I can’t sit still.
Sitting down in front of a computer all day is next to impossible for me. For some people, I realize being still can be calming, but it makes me feel like I am crawling out of my skin. I can’t do yoga because it makes me squirm, and running has a more meditative effect on me than meditation. I am constantly moving around at my job, and I love it. Whether I am bouncing around the room to answer questions one-on-one, moving from group to group as students work on projects, or simply standing up front facilitating a discussion, there is never a dull moment. I do get tired, but it is worth it.
I love my subject matter.
I could gush on and on about how English Language Arts is the most interesting class you’ll ever take. I teach students how to communicate, how to write, how to think critically! We can read and learn about anything! As much as I love my subject, I know that not everyone feels the same way, nor should they. I am in awe of how much my colleagues love the subjects they teach, and I know not every student will become an English major; however, I find it very fulfilling that I get to talk and think about something I love everyday.