There are as many reasons to teach as there are teachers. For some, it’s a lifelong vocational calling, others stumble on a career they find (often to their surprise) that they are good at.
Being part of the transformative force that is education can be a powerful thing, but so too is experiencing the reward of everyday moments shared with young minds. For most teachers, the attraction is a mixture of many different things.
Here are seven powerful reasons teachers teach.
1 You can change lives
Hannan Al Hroub, winner of the 2016 Global Teacher Prize, grew up in Palestinian refugee camps where she was regularly exposed to acts of violence. She went into primary education after her children were left deeply traumatised by a shooting incident they witnessed on their way home from school. The experience led her to help other children affected in similar ways. A comment from Lana Al Saka, whose troubled boy is a student of Hannan’s is typical: “Mrs Hannan truly saved my son”.
2 Your work lasts a lifetime
No one forgets a good teacher, not even the children who go on to lead the world. Bill Clinton told the Global Teacher Prize in 2016, “I still remember my favourite teachers from grade school and high school. I wrote about them in my memoirs; what I learned and the experience and inspiration they provided. That’s how important my teachers were in my life. I’ll never forget them.”
3 You have a voice
Nancie Atwell, the first winner of the Global Teacher Prize in 2015, has travelled the world speaking about her work. Since 1976, she has written nine books on teaching, edited five collections and delivered 120 keynote addresses on her teaching.
Nancie has won awards from the Modern Language Association, the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. In 2011, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of New Hampshire.
4 You are doing one of the most rewarding jobs there is
As Nancie Atwell puts it, “I feel validated everyday just by the experiences I have with the children in the classroom… I encourage anyone anywhere who enjoys working with young people to consider it as a career.”
5 You can help change the world
Hannan Al Hroub sees non-violence as the only way to transform the turbulent region she lives in. “We must teach our children that our only weapon is knowledge and education.” She is passionate about convincing others that only knowledge can really bring about change. “We just want peace; we just want our children to enjoy their childhoods in peace.”
6 You get to say things like this about your job
“To see a child fall in love with something, to watch them go head over heels for a concept or an idea, to be completely enthralled in a moment of joy – curiosity spills over, their excitement becomes contagious and a lifelong seeker is born.”: Bob Knipe, teacher.
7 And this
“Being a teacher is a profoundly challenging and rewarding job. I wake up every day smiling, knowing I can grow, influence a life, love a child and love what I do.”: Colette Byrne, teacher.
Can you say that about your job?