Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why I Teach

I wanted to share this story with as many teachers as possible. This is not the only story I have like this, but it is the most recent (It happened Friday). Please feel free to share your own "Why I Teach" moments on the comment section. I think many of us need to hear these stories. I also think as many parents as possible to need to hear these stories as well.

I was feeling a bit under the gun the past week as I was trying to get multiple class sets of essays checked so I would not be slammed for the weekend. I was also trying to put the final touches on some curriculum stuff for my department for a meeting on Monday. So, it was a typical day for me. I decided to take a working lunch. (I'm generally against this concept because I think it's vital to socialize with your staff as much as possible. I'll write more about this later.) I had just settled down with my PBJ, water and stack of papers when I heard a knock at my door. I turned around and saw a student frantically waving a paper at me and the she dropped the paper and started to plead with me to open the door. It was a bit dramatic, but I had the student last year and didn't think much of it.

I let her in and she explained to me that her current English teacher was giving her a hard time on her Thesis and topic sentence writing. She wanted to know if I would refresh her memory a bit and help her with her paper. I tried to deflect her to after school when I would have more time, but she said, "I know you must be busy, but I just don't get it when she tries to explain it to me. If you help me know, I won't bother you again...until  I need a letter of recommendation."

I could not say no at this point. I sat her down at a desk and began to look over her work and started to walk her through the process of essay writing again. She had a hard time understanding me and I could see the frustration on her face. She looked up at me and said, "I'm sorry I'm having trouble getting this. Why would you ever want to be a teacher and deal with students like me?" I smiled and promised I would tell her in a few minutes.

I started from scratch and went through the essay writing process again. She started to get the idea of what her other teacher wanted and created a near perfect thesis statement. The hallways were getting crowded as the lunch period was drawing to a close and this student had written a much better thesis and 3 topic sentences for her supporting paragraphs. It wasn't a painful task. She had the skills, I just think that she was freaking out for no big reason. After writing her final topic sentence she smiled and said, " I got it now. This wasn't that big of a deal."

Not only do I love seeing a light bulb go off above a student, I love the energy it creates all over. I looked at her and proudly said, "That's why I teach." She left and I took a bite of my PBJ as the bell rang. I knew it was going to be another long day after school, but i wouldn't have traded my missed lunch for anything else....maybe less essays to check. :)

Like I said before, there are so many more stories like this out there. As teachers, I think it's our job to share them with as many people as possible. We are not the people who enjoy "summers off". We are the people that give up lunch hours, after school hours and summer hours to improve ourselves, our schools, our communities, and our students. That's why I teach, why do you?