After college, I began a career as a stock broker. Having been a poor college student, the appeal of making a good deal of money was hard to ignore. However, it did not take long for me to realize that receiving a good salary did not guarantee happiness at work. As I looked around for something more appealing, I found the idea of working in military intelligence and learning Russian to be exciting. Five years later, the appeal had largely faded. After being discharged from the Army I went back to school to get my Master's degree and found my true calling. In 1990, I began to teach high school students in Colville, Washington.
Since then, I have taught various subjects and had various positions. During that time, I have never lost my conviction that education is critical and I feel blessed to be involved in such an endeavor. Below are some reasons educators have to be grateful:
- Kids are hilarious.
I will never forget Spencer, the kindergartner who came into the office of Orient Elementary School howling at the top of his lungs after being stung by a bee. Apparently, someone had attempted to comfort Spencer as he was on his way to the office by telling him the bee that had stung him had died as a result. As the office secretary and I tried to comfort him, Spencer related to us that "bees die when they sting you." After we acknowledged that in fact that was the case, Spencer went on to inform us "that's an awful hard way to kill bees."
- There are no limits.
Children (or those with a "beginner's mind") don't believe in "impossible". For them, anything is possible if they just believe and try. I am reminded of the story of new engineering students who Henry Ford tasked with creating "glass that wouldn't cut" anyone who was involved in a traffic accident. Those students were so naïve they actually believed such a stunt was possible; that's why they were able to create safety glass! Kids' positive mindsets remind us that we can do everything and anything.
- Teaching is not boring.
I defy you be bored when executing a quality lesson plan. Whether it's creating a simulation of ancient Greece, helping kids calculate the volume of a pyramid or conducting an experiment to determine why a given liquid won't freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, teachers have the opportunity to use their imaginations.
- Teachers never stop learning.
Strongly related to #3, teachers have the opportunity and obligation to never stop learning. They go back to school, do personal research and constantly try to figure out what will work best for their students.
- Teachers get to shape the future.
Teachers get to teach the future carpenters, doctors and business people. What could be more exciting than helping to create the future for hundreds?
- Educators get to let the child inside of us come out from time to time.
Seeing a student's sense of wonder helps us to occasionally stop being "the adult" and simply enjoy the little things as much as they enjoy them. If you haven't read to a child recently, I highly recommend it!
- We see brilliance and intelligence every day.
We are able to observe our students and realize how amazing they are. Whether it's a smart five-year old, a creative 7th-grader or an awe-inspiring graduate, we are allowed to see their development and genius all the time.
- The children teach you just as much as you teach them.
Our students teach us how to have patience, be kind, grateful and loving. They allow us to experience "wide-eyed" innocence from time to time.
- Teachers get to give back.
Most teachers I know are excited about doing for others what was done for them. We recognize that we are their torch-bearers, just as we also have had torch-bearers in our lives.
For these, and many other reasons, I am grateful to be an educator. Have a great Thanksgiving!