Heather Wolpert-Gawron

What I Love About Teaching: Part #1

By on February 24, 2008

There’s a lot I love about being a teacher. I want to break it down into a series of articles, and this first one starts with the concept of being a student as well as a teacher, continuing my own journey as a lifelong-learner. We as educators speak often about creating life-long learners, but if we aren’t buying into it ourselves, then our students have no chance.

Michelle Pfeiffer once said that being an actor allows her, with every new character, to learn about people she wouldn’t normally be exposed to. Being a teacher is that and so much more.

With every 7th Grade World History lesson, I get to learn about the sagas of cultures I once never knew about. I get to have those eureka moments like when I discovered upon looking at a timeline that when John Sutter was panning for gold in California, the samurais were still in power in Japan. I get to learn about strategies, about backgrounds, about communication, in a way that I wouldn’t if I were in a profession that didn’t expose me to people different from myself.

I believe true growth as a person can only happen by challenging yourself with situations that are not familiar to you. Throwing yourself into a job where you can encounter people from different ethnicities, different religions, different philosophies, different learning styles, and different backgrounds can only cause your own growth as a person.

And you never know how that will eventually translate. For some, it will mean a growth in empathy. For others, the fact that your brain learns something new everyday is a means to fight old age. Remember the nuns from Wales? This group of long-lived nuns had theories about their own longevity as it related to their active brain activities. Learning, they believed, kept Alzheimer’s at bay, and helped their minds stay intact even while their bodies aged.

Whatever your beliefs are, the fact is that a good teacher continues to be a student. This could mean continuing to be a student in a graduate class, or simply as a student of your own school community. IN my 10 years teaching, I learned more from other teachers, from my students, and from their parents then in any teacher credential program class (true, that’s not difficult to do – but that’s another article). And in, turn, when they see my own enthusiasm for learning, students will be more inclined to learn from me.

And that’s how my own happiness and growth translates into the success of my students.

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