Monday, September 3, 2012

Blogger Initiative Week 3: Why I teach

I had a tough time choosing a prompt to respond to this week--they were all great questions and I just don't have good answers to many of them.  Hence the response to the ever asked question, "why are you a teacher?"  This question is usually not ended there; it usually includes some form of "you are too smart to teach."  Nothing gets my blood boiling faster than that small addition to the question.  Where did this idea that only people of lesser "smartness" should be teachers come from?  Do we really want our children (our future) to be taught by people who don't know math, can't spell or speak coherently?  I certainly wouldn't want that to be the case!

Unlike many of the math bloggers out there, I don't have some miraculous story about how I was in the corporate world and then changed careers---this is all I have done and all I have ever wanted to do (besides a few terrifying moments when I thought that, despite fainting at the sight of blood, I thought I could be a nurse).  I used to make my younger siblings sit and play school with me while I handed them worksheets with spelling words and addition problems.  (yes, I was that mean big sister)  Even on the days when I am so very frustrated with the way teachers are being treated and villainized, I may say I would switch careers, but I can't imagine spending my life doing anything else.  

I love teaching.  I love that moment when the lightbulb finally goes off for a student and a concept they have been struggling with clicks.  Kids are funny, insightful and fun!  Teaching is one of the world's most rewarding jobs, even on its toughest days.

And now, the more pertinent question--why teach math?  Well, the answer I always tell my students is that I didn't want to grade 100 essays on the exact same topic.  And there is truth in that answer.  Also, as a kid, I always had a hard time buying the truth of being told that certain elements of a story where put in place with specific intention (example:  who is to really say whether or not that tree is a symbol for life, vitality, etc?)I was always good at school, I LOVE to read and I probably could have taught English.  However, I absolutely love the beauty of math.  I love that each problem is like solving a puzzle and there is a great sense of satisfaction when you get to the end of a problem and the puzzle is complete.  

Wow, I actually had a lot more to say on that topic than I thought I did.  Now it's off to keep re-planning for the first day of school !


  1. I too have always been a teacher. No miraculous career-changing here.

    Another thing we have in common is starting school later than almost everyone else in the MathTwitterBlogoSphere. I haven't taught a class yet either. Still getting ready for Day One.

    Thanks for sharing your story, and good luck in your first week!

  2. I am so glad that you are teaching! (said also as a mom). I love seeing the lightbulb going on also. I think that is my favorite part of teaching.

  3. I can relate a lot to your answer - many times, there is the implication that you are too smart to teach. I was just reading something about how important it is to have smart teachers. Like you, I have always been a teacher and played teacher when I was younger. However, I debated between history and math. I chose math because I knew I'd have a better chance of getting a job as well as because of many of the reasons you listed. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I recently became a tutor - not my dream job though - but I think I have a few things to learn from your blog