Thursday, February 9, 2017

BAT Educators: Why Did You Go Into This Profession? by Priscilla Sanstead and Dr. Michael Flanagan

We recently posed the question on the Badass Teachers’ Association Facebook group, “Why did you become educators?” The answers were as interesting, as inspiring, and as diverse, as the dedicated professionals who populate BATs. Teachers have taken a lot of hits in recent years; let’s look back to what brought us to the teaching profession in the first place in the hopes that it will keep us energized to fight for the future.  (Comments posted with permission).


LOVE OF TEACHING
  • “I came into this profession because I love children and want them to succeed.” - Debbie Doty Reddick

  • “I teach to teach children that's it's ok to be yourself, even if you're different even if you're weird, even if it seems like no one understands you. I teach so that my weirdest, loneliest kids can know someone out there cares about them and accepts them for who they are. I teach kids that the world is wide and diverse and we should explore it with kindness.” - Anonymous

  • “I loved school and wanted to be a teacher from the time I entered kindergarten. I grew up in a military family and moved frequently. Everywhere I went, I loved school and was a good student. I realized that other kids didn't love learning like I did and it didn't come as easily to them as it did to me. I wanted to make a difference. I was a special education teacher for 20 years. This is my first year out.” - Lisa Heater Gerard

  • “I enjoy helping student achieve their academic goals. To be able to help a college student navigate the waters of Higher Education and see them be successful and graduate gives me satisfaction. I feel like I'm helping to shape the next work force. To see the passion that students have for the careers they are wanting to go into renews the passion I have for helping them get to that goal.” - Jessica Baker

  • “Many mundane--and, frankly--naive reasons for starting, but I stay to inspire a lifelong love of learning. Inspired by The Book Whisperer, I share my love of reading  through so many fantastic children's books.” - Caroline Lund

  • “I love working with kids and I love reading and writing. It seemed to go hand in hand. I also loved the idea that every day could be different. Unfortunately, the profession I love has really been becoming depressing and micromanaged.” - David Holdredge



FAMILY INFLUENCE
  • “As a child, I lived with my great-grandparents. My great-grandmother loved learning and loved having rich discussions. She didn't go to college, but she never stopped reading and seeking knowledge. She also volunteered at my school and taught Sunday school. She dedicated her life to working with children. I've known I wanted to teach since I was 5 years old. I'm sure her example influenced me. My goal is to help students develop the same love of learning that my great-grandmother had and instilled in me.” - Maryellen Neudecker Eaves

  • “I wanted to be like my mom, an awesome music teacher. She died of cancer before she retired and I cleaned her room out. Since she died, I have had a hard way to go in this path. I question myself frequently.” - Erin Michelle

  • “I come from a family of educators. Growing up, I was surrounded by people who loved and respected education. And then I went to school...I had a few amazing teachers, but it was the awful ones who really made me decided to teach. I went to public school in rural Georgia. I had teachers tell me in class that I was going to hell for being non-Christian. I had a teacher pray daily and tell me I could go wait in the hall if it bothered me. I was disciplined for using self-defense when I was sexually assaulted in the hallway and none of the staff stepped in. I loved learning, but I hated school. I wanted to change that for students. I wanted to offer a safe place that supported their learning and celebrated their individuality. I've been working in schools for 16 years. I hope my decision to teach has provided that for the 500+ students I've worked with in that time.” - Josie Bowman



  • “Teaching was all I ever wanted to do. My grandmother was a custodian so she would bring me home all of the usable items teachers would throw away. Ohhhh how I loved the grade and attendance books! I would teach to my stuffed animals, then I would teach to the neighborhood children, really anyone who would listen! Then when I entered school I would beg to grade papers, I became an aide in middle school and high school. I did not know that I wanted to be a Special Education teacher until I explored the field in my Jobs for Ohio Graduates class. I have always loved a challenge and working with students that were considered at-risk. I got into teaching to change lives. To help the underdogs make it out. To teach about life and not just be a presenter of material. Slowly but surely, the tides changed to what is now important... A,B,C, or D! Teaching was stolen from us educators so I left teaching in the traditional sense and do it MY Way in my after school program!” - Stacie Starr

INSPIRING TEACHERS
  • “I was a punk kid who loved learning, questioned everything, and hated school on principle. I studied art in college because it was the only thing I cared about, and then floundered in cubicle land for five years. I was miserable. My mother had recently gone back into teaching and suggested maybe I might find it more fulfilling. My initial response was "Are you f*cking kidding me?!? I hated school. I was a terrible student!" but then she said, "who were the people who changed your life the most?" Of course the answer was my art teachers.  I had never thought of it that way, that maybe I could be that person for other kids. I applied for a credential program and started substitute teaching. My first day ever as a teacher was literally the day after Columbine. I was subbing for a biology teacher in a stuffy portable called "the Morgue" with a refrigerator full of dead animals. There was an emergency staff meeting called at break to assure us everything was under control, because there had been a bomb threat made earlier that morning but it was being treated as a prank. It was crazy! But even still, I knew teaching was what I wanted to do. I can't imagine doing anything else.” - Katie Linton

  • “Two black guys, Sidney Poitier in "To Sir With Love" and Mr. Dixon in "Room 222". Both of them made a difference in the lives of their students and schools. They were cool! One year I got to teach U.S. History in room 222 and felt a dream come true. I hoped to be as great a teacher as Mr. Dixon was.” - Ed Kitlowski

  • “I loved school and my teachers and never thought about doing anything else. “ - Stacey Childs



CAREER FULFILLMENT
  • “I used to be a lawyer. I was always getting into the situation at the very end, when there was often little I could do. I wanted to help problems earlier. Also, law is very contentious. I am not. Many people are unhappy with teaching, and I am not saying it's perfect by any means, but because I have something to compare it to, I am happy. I do like the fact that even though I work as hard (if not harder), I don't have to put in "face time." When I was a lawyer, it didn't count if I was there at 8:30. But God forbid, I left at 6. I do have more vacations (and need them) but as a lawyer, it was even hard to take the time I had. As for respect, didn't have it then either. LOL.” - Susan Cohen McAuley

  • “My husband tells me I am a much happier person as a teacher. It was hard to feel the way about my clients that I do about students; the law clients were adults (even though in bad situations) and I did not have them for long periods of time. One of my co-teachers is also a former lawyer (the students think it is so strange and what are the odds?) and she is also much happier.” I was a nonprofit lawyer. I earned the same amount of money coming in as a teacher because of my level of education. Even if you get other degrees, in NY state, it is counted. But, in total, I was getting more since the insurance was better and I had more time off.” - Anonymous

  • “After spending about fifteen years avoiding the family business (I grew up in a family of educators), I got into the education profession after being in the hospitality sector (which collapsed after 9/11) for several years while developing an interest in local education issues.” - Adrian Devore 


LOVE OF CONTENT AND CRAFT
  • “Because I love breaking things down and seeing what's underneath our assumptions about how our culture works. I thought that teaching kids that would help them be critical in their thinking.” - Jamie Highball

  • “I like explaining things to other people. I like showing people how to do things they couldn't do before. I like clarifying complex ideas, deconstructing complicated concepts. I like seeing eyes light up with new insights and watching students generating fresh new original ideas. I wanted to give marginalized students (like me) someone who believed in them. I wanted to nurture their self-esteem.” - Shirley Durr

  • “I became a teacher to make the world a better place. I want to inspire people to really see the world around them and care enough to understand the importance of protecting this planet. Over the years that has evolved in practice, but it seems to matter more than ever right now.” - Amy Bebell

  • “I love science and art. Mainly the science of thinking, processing information. Started out in a science degree but found that unfulfilling. Science in a vacuum is not an art. But science applied where it can be of use, science in action. Now, that is an art form. Apply the science of thinking with teaching music and it is the most interesting, satisfying, amazing profession I could be in. Now that I have done it for 28 years, I see that teaching is building a legacy that will continue and them influence generations beyond my understanding. It is the one profession that can truly make a profound difference on the future.” - Diane Barrett King Rener

  • “I came out of the foster care system and survived. I was a competent writer and loved literature. I wanted to help teens, especially ones who were struggling, to find access and to weather adolescent drama by finding their own voices. Something like that. YEAH!!” - Anonymous

  • “I went into teaching because I enjoyed tutoring and helping out at enrichment classes for inner city kids. And I was good at it. I wanted to teach in the city to see if I could give the kids a leg up. They taught me much more than I taught them in my 37 years. And I loved every minute up until the emphasis changed to test scores from the love of learning.”  - Anne Tenaglia






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