Inside the Classroom

We Asked Teachers, “Why do you teach?”

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

As teachers around the country are counting down the days to summer breaks (and hopefully vacations!), many people are taking the time this month to show and tell teachers how much they are appreciated. This particular week in May helps us all remember the hard work and sacrifices teachers make every single day to ensure their many students are learning, growing, and equipped to be successful in the future.

To kick off our Teacher Appreciation Week celebrations here at Where Learning Clicks, we spoke with teachers from all over the country to find out why teaching is important to them, and why they continue doing it.

Jenny, a first-grade teacher in Arizona, said

I strive to create an atmosphere of trust in my classroom. I constantly remind my students that we are ALL here to learn, and that making mistakes is good because it helps you figure things out on your own. My students have sent me home in tears with stories about their home life, but they’ve also given me hope, picked me up when I’m feeling sad, and made me laugh. I particularly love the beginning and end of each year, seeing the growth my kids have made. It’s so rewarding.

Amanda, a middle-school special education teacher in Massachusetts, said

As a teacher, you have this unique ability to help shape students and the future, and I wanted to become a teacher because I wanted to be part of the change. I want to be a person who students can see as safe and supportive; a person who sees their ability and believes in them. I strive to see the whole child in his or her learning process, and my goal is to create a safe space where students can be themselves and take risks in their learning. I hope to empower them with strategies and help them develop a desire to learn.

It is humbling to watch students grow and transform. They truly show you what is possible with determination and the right support. I find myself leaving school with a smile often, thinking back on their “lightbulb” moments or even just their jokes, and being honored by the connections we have made.

Angela, a high-school virtual Spanish instructor, said

I love working with young people and in a career where I know I am making a difference. Overall, I hope to help students understand their worth. I hope to help them understand that they can achieve most of what they work really, really hard for, including understanding and speaking Spanish! I like to show young people that with hard work, you can accomplish nearly any goal.

Sadie, a high-school science teacher in Massachusetts, said

I wear many hats, and one quote that I heard is, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” You have to get to know them as people so that they realize that you’re invested in them. And students, knowing that someone cares about them, will try harder to live up to their own capabilities.

One of the ways I foster deeper relationships with students is by listening. I don’t think kids are used to somebody listening to them fully but it’s something that they want. I also get over-the-top excited when I see students for the first time each day. And I find something positive to say about them when they are doing not-so-positive things, so they can think about if the way they are acting is who they really are. Students are still developing people and, as a teacher, I can help them become the best version of themselves.

Kelly, a high-school marketing teacher in Arizona, said

Now, more than ever, students need good teachers. I don’t want to leave these students with a warm body in the room; I want them to learn, to flourish, to become the next CEO who has a heart and gives back to their communities on multiple levels. So I work hard to get to know each student individually. I pay attention to what they say, what they do, what they are participating in, and more. I share my life with them so they know I’m a real person, too. The biggest thing I do for my students is earn their respect.

Lori, a high-school virtual Spanish instructor, said

I’m happy to be a teacher. I enjoy the personal connection with people. Each student is unique and knowing them enriches my life. As they say, the teacher often learns as much or more than the student, and I’m inspired by people who overcome big or small obstacles with determination and a positive attitude.

AJ, a high-school AP® and honors English teacher in New Mexico, said

I am most inspired by my own children. Every day that I come to work, I think to myself: “What kind of teacher would I want my children to have?” This has pushed me to provide the best possible learning environment for my students.

In my classes, I enjoy using the Socratic discussion because I believe it nurtures students’ development of independent thinking. I think young children are naturally inquisitive, but unfortunately students begin to lose their sense of wonder as they grow up. The Socratic method forces them to think creatively about the world around them, which is important for students as they get ready to go out into the “real world.”

Michelle, a high-school virtual Spanish instructor, said

Teaching is so fulfilling to me. Now, that is not to say that it doesn’t come with its challenges, because it definitely does, but I think that’s why I like it! Teaching challenges me because it requires ALL of me. I have learned so many things from my students, and the longer I teach, the more I learn; teaching is the ultimate learning experience.

The one thing that I always hope students leave my classroom with is a sense of wonder of the world. I want to instill a passion in my students for learning about new cultures and people that are different from they are, and help them learn to appreciate differences between people and cultures, not fear them. I also want my students to know that I strive to make their learning experience valuable! Like everyone says, you rarely remember the content the teacher taught you, but you definitely remember how they made you feel.

Chris, a high-school English teacher in New Jersey, said

I never considered teaching when I was younger, it was never on my radar, but I took the plunge and it’s truly the best job that I’ve ever had. My job as a teacher is to engage all of my students, to make sure that they’re accumulating knowledge and understanding their tasks, but also to make sure they know they’re in a safe environment, that they belong there, and that they have an obligation to participate in it. There are a lot of ways to teach a child how to be more grown up, and I think that’s one of the most important things that I do.

On my second day of teaching, a kid at the back of the room yelled out, “Yo Shakespeare, use words that we understand!” and it never left me. I have a big vocabulary, and I don’t use it to show off; I use it because those are the words that come to mind. In that moment, I learned that it doesn’t matter how much you know, if you can’t impart it in language that they know, you are failing as a teacher.

Kristin, a high-school virtual English instructor, said

One of my favorite quotes is from Aristotle, “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.” I have worked with all types of students, from adult inmates at a county jail program near Detroit to a vocational farm in Ohio, and I seem to connect with the students who have more at-risk characteristics. I think that connecting with those students can be difficult for many teachers, and I think that’s a need in the world I can help fill.

It is really rewarding to see them develop into young adults and get excited about life after high school. And I hope that in their time in my class, my students accomplish not only their own goals for English, but also feel better prepared for their future because of the things they learned from me.

Katie, a high-school AP and honors English teacher in New Mexico, said

I hope to influence my students in a positive way so that they go out and always remember SOMETHING they learned in my class. I also want them to discover something great about themselves, even if it’s just that they can write a good essay. I’d like to be remembered as the teacher who cared about them—the one they could trust to be understanding of what they’re going through. I want to have inspired everyone in some way.

And for those who want to be teachers, I say DO IT. If you focus on your students and you are passionate about what you teach, you will love it. It is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life.

Why do you teach? Share your stories with us on Twitter with the hashtag #whyiteach!

About the Author


Where Learning Clicks

Since 1998, Edgenuity has been creating products and services that help all students achieve their full potential. As an extension of our efforts, we also produce Where Learning Clicks to share meaningful and timely ideas about trends, developments, and changes in education, as well as how to further incorporate technology into today’s classrooms.