There are ways to teach that don’t require formal education. Every parent knows they don’t need any kind of college degree to teach their children manners. However, the phrase “become a teacher” generally brings to mind a traditional school system.
If you want to become a teacher in a traditional school system, there is advanced education you will need. I will write about this topic in a future post. But, for now, I want to focus on reasons why you want to pursue this career. And, as you pursue that advanced education, you can keep these motivations in mind to help you get through the hard times.
So, why become a teacher?
1. Because…you want to share you passion for a topic. Good teachers have a passion for their topic that comes through. Even before they become teachers, they have immersed themselves in the topic. They may have books on it, taken classes for fun, have hobbies that deal with that topic. They may talk about it with their friends. In short, even if they don’t teach the topic, they would still have it as a significant part of their lives.
But, the second part of this is the desire to share that passion. This is important. There are three topics I consider a significant part of my life: Phantom of the Opera, tarot, and writing. However, I do not teach these topics in any way. For the most part, I consider these to be something I do on my own. Sure, I talk about them with my friends. When I’ve seen Phantom of the Opera I haven’t gone alone. My husband also enjoys reading tarot and we both write. Yet, that is the extent of my sharing. While these topics are passions for me, they aren’t passions that I want to share.
To be a good teacher you must love the subject you teach.
2. Because…you have a passion for sharing information to large groups of people. This is very closely related to number 1, but it’s slightly different. With the first reason, the emphasis is on a particular topic that you wish to share. With this second reason, the focus in on the sharing itself.
For example: You love math. You think math is cool and you want to tell all your friends about it. You try to get your kids involved in math. You talk you friends into going with you to a math exhibit at the science center. You’re sharing you passion. But, do you want to get up in front of a group and talk about math? Maybe you do, or maybe you would rather keep it at the level of your friends.
To be a good teacher you must feel passion for sharing with large groups of people – whether this is to a class of children, or in a college class. You have to want to share on a large scale.
3. Because…you love that feeling of helping someone experience the wonder of learning something new. There’s nothing like the feeling of finally understanding something that you have struggled with. Or, reading something and saying “I didn’t know that,” and realizing you had been looking at a situation all wrong.
Better yet, is when you share that knowledge with someone else and they have the same “Ah-ha!” moment. Being a teacher means you get to see this on a regular basis. If you want to be a part of that, then you may want to be a teacher.
To be a good teacher, you must love helping others learn.
4. Because…you like your students. This can apply to individual students, but they will pass on when the class is over. This is more “I like children.” But, keep in mind that not all teachers teach children. You may be a college professor, or teach an adult literary class. You may be the instructor at the NRA safety class. This last example, while not in the traditional classroom setting, certainly qualifies as being a teacher. And, when I took that class, every student was an adult.
To be a good teacher, you must like people and spending significant time with them.
5. Because…you like connecting one on one with people. On the flip side, a teacher must spend time giving individual attention to students. Depending on the class, this time may be short. However, a good teacher spends time with each student – they don’t skip those they don’t like very well. While it’s impossible to like everyone equally, after all we are only human, it’s necessary to connect with everyone in your class.
To be a good teacher, you must like interacting one on one with all different types of people.
6. Because…you want to pay forward the thanks to a teacher from your past. Teachers gifts are ways to thank an important teacher in your life. And, teachers enjoy getting these gifts. But, by becoming a teacher yourself you spread that thanks further. You may never know which students consider you their best teacher. You may never know if you inspire any of them to become teachers. Ultimately, that’s not important.
To be a good teacher you must want to be part of a legacy of teaching. You can honor the teachers you admired and do your best to be the same kind of teacher to your students.
Which brings me to a reason many may be thinking: I want to make a difference in the world.
The problem with this reason is: it’s too general. How are you going to make a difference? Simply becoming a teacher won’t make a difference. If you are a lousy teacher, you’ll make a difference, but not the one you want. What I think people are expressing with this phrase are the following reasons:
7. Because…you want to be part of making education better. The best way to improve a system is by being part of the system. There are problems throughout school systems. Some are better than others, but even the good ones can be improved. From the outside you may have ideas on how things could be done better, but by becoming a teacher in your chosen school system, you have the chance to understand the problems better. You also have the chance to make your voice heard clearer, since you coming from the trenches, so’s to speak.
To be a good teacher, you must be willing to fight to improve education.
8. Because…you what to make education more accessible to more people. A more educated population comes from more people being educated. And, the more teachers there are to teach, the more people who can be taught. This may sound obvious, but it’s profound. If you believe that education is important and believe that if more people were educated your society would improve, then becoming a teacher is a good way to further that cause.
To be a good teacher, you must believe that it is important for everyone to get a chance at a good education.
9. Because…you want to improve the quality of knowledge that people have. This can also be stated: because…you want to spread correct information as well as clear up misconceptions and plain wrong thinking. (As much as possible, anyway.) There are two parts to this. First, there is a lot of facts that people don’t know and this lack of knowledge negatively affects the actions they take. Second, many people don’t understand how the world works because they didn’t get a good foundation of knowledge. Both of these states are ones that teachers help to solve. Teachers impart knowledge directly to their students, giving them the facts they need to make informed decisions. Teachers also provide knowledge on a broad range of subjects, giving people a general overview of how things works.
To be a good teacher, you must value providing accurate, and thorough information.
10. Because…you can’t not teach. I saved what may be the most important reason for last. There are many opportunities in our lives to be a teacher on a small scale. This may be showing a child how to do something, having an in depth discussion with a friend, or helping a coworker to use a new program. But, to be a teacher on a large scale, with structured classes, requires a large commitment. Some might even call teaching a vocation, similar to becoming a member of the clergy. All the reasons stated above contribute to an overall feeling of needing to be a teacher and not stopping until you find some way to be one.
In summary: To be a good teacher, you must have passion, desire, and belief in educating for the future. You may not have ALL the reasons above to be a teacher, but if you must have at least those three.