At the end of the year, teachers often feel exhausted. Battle-scarred and weary, we clean up our classrooms and look forward to our hard-earned vacations. But even at the end of a long year, there are still plenty of reasons to love teaching. Now is the perfect time to step back and remember why we entered the teaching field in the first place.
Teachers are amazing people. They're smart, funny, caring, hardworking, and exciting to be around. Each year, Cheryl's and Erin's students score exceptionally well on the advanced placement calculus test. Asha has done incredible work with our large English language learners program. Mark's speech and debate team has won a bevy of accolades. And my coworkers are impressive outside of the classroom, too. Katie runs marathons. Noah is in a band. MaryEllen writes books.
These amazing teachers make work a great place to be. They recommend books to read, conferences to attend, and courses to take. They offer their suggestions and intellectual insights. And, most importantly, they help me find joy in my job. I am in awe of the teachers I work with; they inspire me to reach higher and try harder each year.
2. Lifelong Learning
Teachers are lifelong learners who are constantly growing and evolving. Any given school is full of professionals who are in the midst of taking courses, participating in professional development sessions, and earning degrees. It's almost impossible to stagnate because there are always new things to be learned. Keeping up with new research, data, and trends requires a dynamic approach and an adaptable mind, so boredom is out of the question.
3. Exercising Creativity
Teachers have enormous freedom to create lessons that are engaging and effective for their students. I was able to launch an English language arts curriculum on the Walking Dead to help my students understand business, ethics, sociology, psychology, and international relations. I also saw a need for instruction on evaluating sources and recognizing fake news, so I created a lesson to address those skills.
Further reading: 3 Student Success Stories to Reaffirm Your Love of Teaching
My friend Allie has created a variety of clever games to teach her kindergarten students long and short vowel sounds. Sara started a poet laureate contest for our school. And at the end of each year, teachers evaluate past lessons to reflect on what worked, what didn't, and how things can be done better next year. I'm thankful for the chance to make my lessons stronger, more relevant, and more meaningful for my students.
4. Building Relationships
I don't know a single teacher who hasn't had at least one student touch their heart each year. This year, four senior girls who couldn't deal with the social hierarchy of the cafeteria ate lunch with me each day. I loved listening to their stories about what was going on in their lives. I celebrated with them when they learned about their college acceptances, soothed them through heartbreak, empowered them as women, and marveled at their resilience.
These young women have kept me young by sharing their points of view on the world. Teachers everywhere build relationships and make strong connections with their students, which is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.
5. Providing Opportunity and Changing Lives
This year, I received a grant that allowed me to take my students to hear world-class professors speak at One Day University and to see several plays. Erin brought her English language arts class to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Alec created a rock ensemble. Tiffany helped students find internships in fields that interested them.
Further reading: Guiding Students: How I Helped a Student Realize and Pursue Her Dream
Every day, teachers enable their students to learn and grow, helping them become masterful readers, writers, problem-solvers, and critical thinkers. In addition, we empower our students to become global citizens—to take a stand and let their voices be heard. We are preparing the next generation to take charge of the world, and that's powerful.
The end of the school year can be a tough time for teachers, but it's a great opportunity for reflection. There are so many reasons to love teaching, and now is the perfect time to revel in them and get excited about building a joyful classroom for next year.