Why I want to be a teacher

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Very often people ask me, “Why do you want to be a teacher?” So I thought I’d answer that question in a today’s blog. I want to be a teacher so that I can make a difference in the lives of young people.

I became aware of how much teaching can impact students’ lives when I was in high school. My high school’s National Honor Society chapter went to an underprivileged elementary school in our county, and we donated and read books to the students. The teachers at this school told me that many of the students were on free and reduced lunch and most likely didn’t have any books at home to read. To see the looks on their faces and how excited they were to be receiving their own book was absolutely life changing for me. They were so intrigued by everything I did just because I was in high school, and they were so appreciative of the time I spent with them. I knew that many of these students didn’t get the support that they needed at home, and this broke my heart. These children were so desperate for any kind of attention, and I wanted to give it to them. They immediately clung to me as I read to them. I knew then and there that I wanted to help children by becoming a teacher.

I wanted to be able to help students like this everyday if I could. I know that in my life I’ve had so many awesome teachers who have inspired me, and I want to be an inspiration to students of my own.  To see children who were so eager to learn and were so excited to have the opportunity to take a book home to read was something I can’t put into words. They were so kind and loving to me and they didn’t actually know me.

After having such a great experience at this elementary school my NHS chapter went back the following year, and we put together a gift drive to give to the students at this school during the holiday season. It was really sweet to see some of the same children I had seen the previous year and how happy they were to see me again.

I believe education is a powerful tool that can empower children and open up a world of opportunities to improve their lives in ways that without it they wouldn’t have. I want to teach students that they can do anything they put their minds to and that there are no limitations to what they can achieve. I want to be a teacher that each day makes a difference in the lives of the students in my classroom.  I want to encourage them to learn and grow in every aspect of their lives. I know that being a teacher is such a powerful job because you get to interact everyday with the future of our world and to be able to say I had a small part in making that future brighter, by having the privilege to teach, would be an honor.

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2 Responses to Why I want to be a teacher

  1. I love your passion, Sydney! I think teaching is a wonderful path and I am so so happy to see someone like you be inspired to be a future educator. There is such a need for teachers in general, especially ones that are equipped with empathy and compassion, and it truly is refreshing to see you wanting to devote your life to transformative connections through teaching.
    One thing I thought was interesting was the recount of your NHS service event where you donated books and read to students. My high school’s Student Government did something similar, except we would go around the winter time and give students in poorly funded schools gifts for the holidays. I am certainly one that believes in positive impact, but I am also one that struggles with intentions vs. impact.

    Often during these service events, I found that my classmates would go because the experience validated their privilege. They would infiltrate these poor schools with generic gifts, give them to excited, poor students, take “candid” photos with them and then caption it with some epiphany of how #blessed they were to experience such a thing. Posting their deed of day all over their social media accounts never felt right with me; the students became props to enhance some (phony) Good Samaritan image. Although well-intentioned, it is somewhat problematic.

    Unfortunately, I see the same thing happening with people who want to be teachers, specifically through programs like Teach for America. When people talk about teaching in “under-privileged” areas, this also tends to mean in areas with a high population of students of color. I found a very interesting article on how well-meaning teachers perpetuate racism in their classrooms without realizing.

    http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/08/10-ways-well-meaning-white-teachers-bring-racism-into-our-schools/

    As someone who wants to be an educator, I fear that I may fall into some of those traps. Do you think it is problematic for TFA teachers who want to teach students in poorly funded areas to do their job without realizing what it means to critically engage in oppressive systems? How do you suggest teachers, with little to no experience in these poor areas, as often the case in Teach for America, to know what they are getting themselves into? These are questions I think about a lot when unpacking my role as a future educator.

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    • sydneymitchell17 says:

      Jovonnie, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! I think the fact that TFA teachers aren’t trained well to serve in poor areas is a major a problem! I’ve never looked into nor do I plan to do TFA, so unfortunately I don’t know a lot about the program, but I have heard some of the controversy that surrounds it. I admire so much your passion about equality in schools and that you’ve thought about how to best impact students as a teacher! Thankfully in my experience, giving back to a school in our community wasn’t handled the way you described! My school actually ended up becoming partners with the classrooms and bought gifts that met the specific needs of the students during the holiday season! The relationships formed with that school in addition to the classroom volunteer work I do in Chapel Hill has inspired me to teach and make whatever difference I can in whichever school I find myself in after graduation. While I can’t change the world perhaps if I can encourage or nurture the students I teach in some way that will be my personal contribution!

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