Thursday, September 10, 2009

The pleasures of the teaching life

I just started student teaching last week, and I love it so far. Here are a few of the things I am enjoying about it and looking forward to in my career as an educator:

-The opportunity to connect with students, and the potential to reach many students over the course of a year (and tens of thousands of students over the course of a career in education).

-The school environment. The local high school is often the central institution in a community: many, many people are heavily invested in the work that goes on there. For hundreds of teenagers, the high school is the central setting of life and growth for several years.

-Listening to NPR and sipping coffee on my way to work at 6 a.m. What better way to start the day? (OK, so maybe that isn't unique to teaching.)

-The ability to think and talk about three of the subjects I love - history, politics, and education - all day long.

-The opportunity to stand up and move around all day instead of being stuck at a desk or in a cubicle.

-The presence of humor: the kids are often hilarious, and the teachers, administration, and staff are often smiling and laughing.

-The intellectual, personal, and psychological pleasure of building a caring, accepting, respectful attitude toward students, and of working to understand each student's unique background, needs, and capabilities. The work draws you outside of yourself.

-The sense that what you do every day - the attitude, skills, and awareness you bring to work every morning - has a direct and considerable impact on the lives of others.

-The feeling that one is part of a grand and noble project, an incredible challenge: to improve schools and shape the minds and lives of students. I feel very conscious of the need to improve schools and the educational climate and infrastructure, and I know that the number one way I can do my part is to work hard as a teacher and writer, reflect often, and strive every day to create the most educative experiences possible for my students.