What is Your Why? – by Cheri

Are thinking of becoming a teacher or campus administrator…if you are, then I ask you to think about this one question…Why?

I work with many different types of new teachers (college educated in education and alternative certified) and that is the one thing I like to find out as I interview anyone new joining my team.  I tell my leadership team all the time…we can teach people to teach, but we cannot teach them to care.

What is my why?  It is simple…I have a calling to change the world.  I often think about the story of the elderly man walking along the beach who sees several dying starfish lying on the beach.  He stops and begins picking them up, one by one, and throws them back into the ocean.  Someone walks up to him, laughing, and asks him, “Why are you bothering with this old man?  You cannot possibly think that you can save everyone of those starfish.”  The elderly man looks up and responds, “I may not be able to save them all, but I just saved that one.”  That is me…I know I cannot save everyone, but if I can make a difference for one person every day, then I have done what I believe I was put on this earth to do.

So…why teaching?  I had a teacher in the 8th grade who believed that I was not a loser.  I knew that I had something in me to go to college (which was not necessarily a tradition in my family) and I knew I was bright enough to handle any academic task, I also knew that my self-esteem was not the best and at that time, not sure I was lucky enough to be something in this world.  But, she saw something different.  She was my writing teacher and thought that I had a talent in writing.  Her telling me that changed my whole view of myself…maybe I was someone who could fulfill my dreams.  My whole world changed.  And, at that moment, I realized that I wanted to be someone who could tell a student something positive about themselves that they may not realize, and it could change their whole world.

So, I ask…why do you want to teach or lead a school?  You may not have an answer like mine, but I hope it is one that you can stand behind on your hardest day.  If you think you want to teach because it works with your own children’s schedules, I must be honest…it doesn’t.  If your why is because you get summers off…you don’t.  And, if it is because you have a degree in something else, but could not secure that dream job…I hope you think again.  Not to be ugly, but teaching needs to be a calling.  You will work hard.  You will doubt every decision you make some days.  You will cry.  You will have sore feet.  It is not glamorous.  But what it is…the MOST rewarding career you will ever have.  The moment a student understands something that they have struggled with because you found that right way to teach it…priceless.  The moment your most challenged new teacher says, “I get it now” and they really do…you will not stop smiling!  The moment that one parent who you believe is out to ruin your career says, “Thank you”…nothing will compare.  These are the reasons to teach!  I hope you read this and can say to yourself…yes, that is why I want to do this.

Remember, anyone can teach you how to write a lesson plan.  Anyone can help you develop a school wide management plan.  Anyone can share their routines and procedures…but they cannot teach you to care.  That is on you!  Good luck and make the most of your journey!

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