#ITeachBecause: Why I teach
#ITeachBecause it is fun and challenging. Teaching requires strong content knowledge and managerial/coaching skills. I love the challenge of math, and engineering and science, but I’ll stick to math here because that is what I teach. Math is a puzzle that requires logic, complex thinking, and the abliity to connect many things together. My Algebra I class is studying number systems this week, and I have always found the hierarchical structures of number systems fascinating, but I digress...I can talk about the power and beauty of math all day, but that isn’t what I wanted to write about today.
You need incredibly strong content knowledge to teach. Proposition 2 of the Five Core Propositions that National Board Certified Teachers believe and practice is: “Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.” (NBPTS) This means you really understand what you teach, but just understanding it is not enough. Accomplished teaching also means you understand your student’s current knowledge and thinking, what their misperceptions will most likely be, how to connect their current thinking to the material they are learning, when to have students work independently or collaboratively, and how to teach students to be learners. These conscious actions of teachers are also embedded in three more of the Five Core Propositions. “Proposition 1: Teachers are committed to students and their learning. Proposition Three: Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning. Proposition 4: Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.” (NBPTS)
Teaching is hard and incredibly challenging. I teach math in a way that allows students to develop critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, communication skills, organizational skills, and the belief that they can learn new things. This is incredibly complex and just handing the students a worksheet won’t accomplish this. This is where Proposition 5 comes into play: “Teachers are members of learning communities.” (NBPTS) If I am going to ask my students to do all of those things, I should do them too. And I do - independently and within several different learning communities.
I am a coach, a manager, a mathematician, a teacher, and a public relations person. I communicate with many people each day about math, student progress, teaching pedagogy, life and learning goals, how to handle stress and new situations, how to take care of yourself, early middle colleges, and post-secondary education. My point is, teaching is not just standing in front of a group of people and telling them things. Teaching is as complex as any other profession and I chose it over engineering because of the combination of skills required to be a teacher.
Over the course of this week I have facilitated conversations and directly lectured about number systems, mathematical notation, and how to study math, as well as, tutored students individually. I have taught soft skills lessons every day in class about how to make choices that will get you closer to your goals. I co-facilitated an orientation for students about the online math practice system we use. I have discussed student progress with both parents and students and coached students in all subject areas. I have coached a new math teacher about how to teach specific content and how to use our online student management system and I discussed soft skill instruction with another early-career teacher. I have visited another school to help with their implementation of standards based grading. I have talked with pre-service teachers about what they observed in my classroom, and I have blogged about standards based grading, been active in the educational twitter community, and worked on some National Board related outreach in our state. I facilitated part of the “business/nuts & bolts” staff meeting this week and am planning (and will facilitate) part of the reflective instructional practice staff meeting in two weeks. Oh, and I will wear a math t-shirt on Friday and see if my students can figure it out. After rereading that list, teacher seems an inadequate descriptor of what I do every day. If I compare this to my husband’s job as a senior engineer, I am left to wonder why society (including some teachers) doesn’t view teaching as a profession. The types of things and variety of things we each did this week is pretty comparable in terms of coaching/mentoring, communication, using content knowledge, and personal professional development.
Teaching is not for people who don’t want to chose another profession, who don’t feel good at anything, or just want to hide in their classroom. Teaching is far too complex and important to be reduced to that type of career. Teaching is for the best folks we know. Being a teacher is just the right combination of mental challenge, interaction with people, and fun. That is why I teach. Why do you teach? Leave a comment below.
"Five Core Propositions." NBPTS. 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.