Motivations for Teaching

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Teaching_101, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. Teaching_101

    Teaching_101 Companion

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    Nov 9, 2009

    My wife and I had an interesting conversation over the weekend, and I would like to share it will all of you and get your input on it.

    We discussed motivation in general, and specifically my motivations for teaching. This discussion stemmed from her displeasure over my mother making no effort to call or talk to me on my birthday (I turned 23 years old, so this is the least of my concerns, but my wife is a softie :)

    The gist of the conversation was this: I was raised in a poor family that came with all the bells and whistles of being poor: drugs, alcohol, dysfunction, etc. -- however, I was always different. I succeeded in school and last year became the first person in my family to graduate from college.

    And, despite feeling that my background hampered me, I feel that it helped me succeed. I still feel that today. Seeing daily "atrocities" like parents (16 and 17 year-old parents, mind you) smoking weed and cussing like a sailor around their newborn child actually de-sensitized me to the things that many new teachers see and can't handle.

    Here is where my motivation for teaching came from, and this is what I said to my wife:

    "I'm going into the field of teaching, not social work. I look forward to teaching and doing a great job at it. I have the ability to break concepts down and reconstruct them for people in a meaningful way. I am confident in my ability to teach my area of expertise: English. I've been doing it for 5 years.

    Do I care for the children? Sure, that's part of the reason I'm there. But I am not their savior, only they can help themselves. If by a side effect I give them the tools they can use to change their own lives, then great -- that obviously is a great bonus. However, my job is to teach them, and teach them well -- it's not to tell them how great or awful their life is and how they need to change. I'll let the government screw that up."

    Now, I realize that I have an extremely different view on life than most people, but I've just seen too many things in my life to believe in the fairy tales in movies. Also, I know that my philosophy on teacher motivation doesn't incoporate other pitfalls of teaching as well, such as parents, administration, and pressures, but that stuff wasn't what my wife and I were discussing at the moment.

    So, what do you all think? Are my real inward motivations too morose for a school administration and I should stick with the "I love children so much and I just want to make a different in their lives," or should I be honest and tell future employers that I consider teaching a career, and my focus is doing a good job and furthering my profession?

    Thanks, and I apologize for the semi-pyshcological dump I just gave you.

    --Teaching 101
     
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  3. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Nov 9, 2009

    I know of teachers and administrators who come from dysfunctional families. They have a unique insight into particular family situations, but it isn't the reason why they went into education. They went into it because they really enjoy knowledge. It isn't even that education was seen as a way out. It is that their intelligence lays in the gaining and giving of knowledge. I know that's one of the main reasons I went into teaching, and because I just genuinely like kids.

    I wouldn't sugar coat why you got into teaching. Your childhood background shouldn't be a discussion point when it comes to whether or not you will make a good administrator. On the other hand, your background helps you to understand something that others in any field might not understand, such as differing philosophies on the handling of money or the importance of continuing education in the evening.

    (To the posts that come after mine: Don't start posting that I made comments about poor people not valuing education. I didn't say that. I did, however, say that there is generally a difference in the way some things are handled.)
     
  4. dannydesil

    dannydesil New Member

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    Nov 9, 2009

    This is very nice information.
    Thanks for motivation.
     
  5. Teaching_101

    Teaching_101 Companion

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    Nov 10, 2009

    You hit it nail on the head for me. I never felt like I "escaped" anything by pursuing further education, but it is like you said: I enjoy knowledge and giving that knowledge to someone else in a fresh and easy-to-understand way.

    As for your comment about differences in the appreciation of education, I say go ahead and preach it man, don't let political correctness stifle your views.

    I'll say it: most poor people don't value education. In fact, they despise it because they consider educated people "the man" that is holding them down (not their own fiscal irresponsibilities).

    How do I know this? Because I grew up in a househoud that generally made 8-10 thousand a year, and all my friends (and their parents) were in the same situation.

    It took me a long time to get the chip off my shoulder about how rich people are the enemy.
     
  6. kalli007

    kalli007 Companion

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    Nov 10, 2009

    Their is your true motivation!!! Hate to say it but in your own way you **will** be their savior - like it or not!!
     
  7. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Nov 10, 2009

    Teaching 101,

    Congradulations on your success!

    Every person has their own motivations for getting into the teaching profession. The important thing is that you are true to your beliefs and live them. In my credential coursework we are often asked to name our philosophy of teaching. It looks like you have stated yours. Consider it a template or roadmap which will shape your style and manner in the classroom.

    Good for you, and go get 'em!
     
  8. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Nov 11, 2009

    Teaching 101, I'd hire you in a heart beat.
     
  9. holliday

    holliday Comrade

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    Nov 11, 2009

    Honestly, I think the myth of the "I do it ALL for the children" is part of what hampers our ability to be treated as professionals deserving of adequate financial compensation, respect, etc.

    Yes, I love kids (more on some days than others!), but I mainly love learning. I'm not up at night distracted by ideas of how to "save" my students - I'm up at night with ideas for lessons! Lol. I don't think that makes me a bad teacher at all. My students love me and I care about them all...but it's the curriculum that keeps my heart pumping.

    *warning = generalizations ahead
    From my own experience, administrators expect more "I'm all about the kids" from elementary teachers. Secondary teachers seem to be almost expected to be more interested in the subjects they teach. Again, that's a broad generalization and as a secondary teacher myself, I know the vast majority of my colleagues do really care for the students.

    Hope this doesn't offend anyone...the point I'm trying (and perhaps failing) to make is that there shouldn't be any shame in loving your content and the process of teaching/learning in addition to caring about your students. And who says that caring about students as learners is any less noble than caring about their home lives?? SOMEBODY has to make their educations a priority - why not the teachers?
     
  10. Teaching_101

    Teaching_101 Companion

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    Nov 12, 2009

    Awesome. At least one of you is out there: there's hope!

     
  11. wrice

    wrice Habitué

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    Nov 14, 2009

    Bravo! Being a competent and engaging teacher will indeed draw students to rise above their life situations. Heat melts some metals but tempers others.

    Just be cautioned, though. The "social work" component will creep in no matter what. Something in the lives of your students sometime will have a direct bearing on their ability to do school work. Feel free to farm such problems out to the school counselor, you certainly don't have to fix everything, but empathy is not pity, and as a role model, you have the power to help the whole kid in a variety of aspects.
     
  12. noreenk

    noreenk Cohort

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    Nov 15, 2009

    I don't think loving kids should be every teacher's main motivation for teaching; in fact, those who focus on their love for kids and desire to change lives forever should -in my opinion- probably be doing social work. At the school where I work, we have to accept that students' home and personal lives are out of our control - we have a mobile population that is low SES, and I don't try to pretend that I am going to transform every student that walks into my classroom. We've had too many students graduate fifth grade and become pregnant, drop out, get into countless fights and then suspended, or just run away for me to maintain that illusion. But like you, I think I'm a very effective teacher, and that's why I'm there. Don't get me wrong... I've cried many tears and gone above and beyond what I'm supposed to do by regularly providing transportation, buying kids basic necessities, taking them places on weekends, etc. But I did not become a teacher so I could also be a surrogate parent. Maybe that's too harsh for some people, but that's how I feel. If anything, my other big motivation was seeing the severe need for competent and qualified bilingual teachers of color - that's what made me decide to become a bilingual teacher.

    I've had many student interns in my room who wanted to be teachers because they love kids and think they're cute. Unfortunately, our job isn't just to love kids. I think you're on the right track.
     

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