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- [Opinion Piece] Why Do You Love Teaching? - May 21, 2020
Guest Writer: Meran Khon
Meran Khon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Spring Arbor University and a Master of Education in Middle-Level Education degree from Walden University. She taught seventh-grade language arts and a third-grade self-contained classroom before reinventing the library and computer lab into a twenty-first-century Learning Lab/Maker Space, where she currently teaches K-5 students.
“Why do you love teaching?” That’s a question that often elicits cliched answers from many teachers: not because their answers aren’t genuine, but because it’s such a complex, multifaceted topic that it can be hard to come up with a response that thoroughly expresses its depth.
You often hear, “I want to change a life; be a positive influence”, etc. These sentiments are true. No two days are ever the same twice and you’re most likely never bored. There’s always some new challenge or problem to solve, along with continually evolving in your content and approach. However, there are just some amazing, awe-inspiring, humbling, and hilarious things kids do that keep me feeling simply grateful I am a teacher. My most memorable moments in education often have much less to do with instruction than they do with witnessing the innocence and humanity of children.
Working at an elementary school offers up some pretty unique experiences. Where else can you go to work wearing a cape, a Christmas tree on your head, or dressed as a 100-year old? Where else can you be greeted by someone who just saw you yesterday, but excitedly acts like it’s been years? Can you walk down the hall to the restroom and pass a line of people whose reactions at the sight of you rival that of the paparazzi spotting a celebrity? Do you get enthusiastic hugs just because you exist?
“This is so fun!”
“I missed you!”
“You’re my favorite!”
“I love you!”
All these are things I hear daily.
An alarm blares, startling my kindergarteners and as we exit the building for their first-ever fire drill, and a little guy repeatedly seeks reassurance by asking, “This is just a practice, right? Because I didn’t see a fire and there aren’t any dragons in this area”. I get to hear random musings about life such as how groups of stars are called constipations and whether or not I was alive when astronauts landed on the moon (I was not).
A first-grader throws a rock high into the sky and when I ask her why, she turns to me with the deepest sincerity and says, “I whispered a thought to it and now I’m sending it to my Dad in Heaven”.
Someone screams gleefully as they jump off a swing. A pair of mud boots tromp through a puddle. Belly laughs over a joke book echo across the room. A student completes a personal challenge with a quiet cheer of success. Two friends work out a disagreement all on their own. These are all the sounds that make being in a classroom joyful.
Is everything always so Norman Rockwell? Definitely not. Many days are full of defiant refusals to work, a child grieving a lost loved one, a Chromebook chucked at my head, poopy underwear, barf on the floor, or somebody did something to someone. Some days are paperwork that can’t be finished, angry or uninvolved parents, social media backlash, low test scores, discouragement…but then a sweet, small hand unexpectedly slips into mine and reminds me that even though there might be a hundred other things I need to do, a thousand problems to solve, a million reasons that teaching is hard, exhausting, and frustrating, the thing I am doing right at that moment is all that matters.
Why do I love teaching? Because teaching IS about changing lives. Sometimes the life that gets changed is your own.