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What I Love About Teaching

Heather Wolpert-Gawron

ELA Teacher, Middle School, Curriculum Coordinator TOSA
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There's a lot I love about being a teacher. Teaching is one of those rare professions that keeps your brain young, allowing you to continue your own journey as a student and a lifelong learner. We as educators speak often about creating lifelong learners, but if we aren't buying into it ourselves, then our students don't stand a chance.

Michelle Pfeiffer once said that being an actor allows her, with every new character, to learn something new, immersing herself in a distinct universe with each project. Being a teacher is that and so much more.

Keeping It Real

Each school year brings new people into your life. Each unit and lesson brings new perspectives. Each failure, when looked at formatively, can help you solve new problems. Each success, when used reflectively, can be even greater the next time.

Sharing oneself, thinking aloud, and being honest about what's working and what isn't is not about making the environment "softer." It's about creating a classroom in which students are at their best in attitude and character. It's about classroom management being better because students want to be there, learning from a teacher who is also willing to learn from them. "The one who does the teaching is the one who's doing the learning," as they say.

Teaching is a job that encourages your own growth because to do it well requires your own continuous education. Some might say that's a bad thing, but growth is about facing your demons -- or just your imps -- and dueling yourself for greater knowledge.

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

I believe true growth as a person can happen only by challenging yourself with situations that are not familiar to you. Throwing yourself into a job in which you can encounter people of different ethnicities and religions and with different philosophies, learning styles, and backgrounds can only cause you to grow as a person, and public education provides that environment.

And you never know how that will eventually translate. For some, it will mean a growth in empathy. For others, the fact that your brain learns something new every day becomes a means to fight old age. Remember those nuns from Wales featured in Time magazine a few years back? This group of long-lived nuns had theories about their own longevity as it related to their active brain activities. Learning, they believed, kept Alzheimer's at bay and helped their minds stay intact even while their bodies aged.

Whatever your beliefs are, the fact is that a good teacher continues to be a student. This could mean you continue to be a student in a graduate class, or you could simply be a student of your own school community.

In my ten years of teaching, I learned more from other teachers, my students, and their parents than I learned from any class in my teacher-credential program. (True, that's not difficult to do -- but that's another post.) In turn, when they saw my own enthusiasm for learning, students were more inclined to learn from me. And that's how my own happiness and growth has translated into the success of my students.

What impact has a passion for lifelong learning had on your teaching? Please share your thoughts.

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Heather Wolpert-Gawron

ELA Teacher, Middle School, Curriculum Coordinator TOSA

Comments (111) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Veronica Shaw-Pinnock's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I love teaching because it is a delight to see the "light bulb" of understanding come on in the minds of the learners is one of the many reasons I continue to be a an ecstatic teacher.
In addition, there are so many various strategies to use in the classroom to make your lessons come alive to enhance learning. The same love and desire for learning was instilled in me as a child and it is what continues to drive me to be the best teacher that I can possibly be to instill this same desire in my students regardless of their abilities, culture and socio-economic background. Each day that I go to school, no matter what is going on personally, I automatically leave it behind in order to set the tone for the day. I love learning from my children, parents, and teachers. I am back in school and try to attend every possible workshops I can to be innovated in every area.

Erika's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I have recently begun attending school again and have been finding it really enjoyable to learn new things on learning how to become a better teacher. I believe, like everyone else, that learning takes place everyday. I think that being a lifelong learner is an essential characteristic of being a teacher. Having that want and need to learn everyday and showing passion towards learning daily I believe, can only rub off on your students. I hope that my students become excited about learning by my willingness and want as well.

Melodie Moore's picture

I grew up with a learning disability. Segregated and told i shouldn't even try to go to university, it just wouldn't be for me. Being told that in many different ways. Luckily i had a few teachers who didn't agree. I am not quite sure what they saw in me but i thank the stars they did. I don't remember the teachers i didn't like, who could have cared less. I think of the teachers who made me who i am often and sometimes send them little thank-you notes. I thank them for inspiring my own love for learning and love for life. Every student i teach is an echo of that thank-you.

Jacklyn Smelser Fagan's picture

I love your innovative approach to learning! I, too, have a passion for learning; and teaching is the perfect environment, because my students teach me something new everyday. As a 6th grade English/Writing teacher, in an inner city public school, my kids make me smile almost continuously. Their creativity humbles me, and our shared passion for teaching, as well as learning creates a unique relationship. I grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, and they are always fascinated by stories of living in the country, but I too am fascinated by their stories of city life. They love to teach me, and admitting that I am sometimes clueless as to the slang they are using, is somehow endearing to them. I teach them what a verb is, and in return they feel inclined to teach me what "jerk" means. It is a win, win situation.

Almerinda Garibaldi's picture
Almerinda Garibaldi
Director of Educadores Globais

I've been teaching EFL in a public school of languages in the Center West of Brazil for 22 years. We work on a semestral basis, and I'm delighted to meet new students twice a year.Two times a year, I feel happpy and with new energy to restart and try new strategies of learning/teaching. You are right, the brain which is permanently challenged keeps healthy over the years. Great for us to have this such an important and exciting job.

Carol Kondrat's picture
Carol Kondrat
Retired elementary teacher - grades k - 5

Teaching is a passion for me and so I am very comfortable in my classroom. I have had numerous experiences that have re-enforced that for me. I have never ceased learning from the students in my classes. Every day is different and the students are all unique. During high school, I said the last thing I would do was teach. I am so thankful that I was wrong. During my years in education, my goal was to create and provide a comfortable learning environment for all students that entered my classroom.

lynne lohmeier's picture

Vironica and all the others. I love you attitudes - I love constant learning. I teach college biology courses and I couldn't be more fascinated and enthuiastic about my subject matter. The problem is I need some your techniques. I'm not a popular teacher - students complain my tests are too hard. I try as hard as I can and yet, I never seem to be able to cross that line where students see me as the enemy. It's very discouraging to me. Give me some ideas, if you have any, on how I can change this. Thanks, Lynne

Caren Cranston's picture

It has been hard to step outside my comfort zone, but when I finally did, it was remarkable. Great teachers never stop learning!

Amita Khurana's picture
Amita Khurana
Hi I am Amita Elementary public school teacher from Jackson, MS

To me teaching is all about creativity and responsibility. I think teachers should be a transformer not a copper. I love teaching because, it is life long learning. I learn everyday something new about my students. Teacher is responsible not only for teaching but also for learning. Responsible for his/her student's growth, and old round development. When I said all round development it means social, emotional, intellectual, and personal. High performing teachers they have a quality to take care of all these essential links of student's life.

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