Why I Teach…

Dr. Behler taught me that although the world is suffering, it is also full of the ability to overcome it and to never stop learning because life never stops teaching.

As part of a recent Professional Master’s in Education student orientation induction process at Hibernia College, I was asked to create a video about why I teach. Any quality professional master’s in education programme should strive to instil within the student a personal connection between the theories of education, their practice in the classroom, and most importantly a connection to their own professional teacher identity. This is just a quick story about why I was inspired to teach. The experiences and more specifically, the teachers, during my education that impacted me greatly and grounded my teacher identity. Personal and professional reflection is key to connect with and continually engage with your own teaching identity. I encourage you to think about why you teach, or… if you are thinking of becoming a teacher, why you want to teach. It is an important practice to Engage – Inspire – Transform. 

What follows is the narrative of my video, ‘Why I Teach’.   You can view the video at the end of this narrative. 

Why I Teach

John Dewey is known as the father of Experiential learning and is often seen as the proponent of learning by doing – rather than learning by passively receiving. He believed that each child was active, inquisitive and wanted to explore. Dewey referred to his philosophy as instrumentalism, rather than pragmatism, though the two are related. Instrumentalism sees the value of an idea or tool being its use as an instrument for getting results. Bearing this in mind, learning should be relevant and rewarding – rather than only theoretical. https://www.thepositiveencourager.global/john-deweys-approach-to-doing-positive-work/ Image credit: Amy Stott https://www.pinterest.ie

Maribeth Whitehouse, a special education teacher from the Bronx, New York, wrote a piece about why she loves teaching, that first appeared on the Learning Matters blog called Why I Teach in May 2012.  Her piece was entitled “I Teach Because” and talked about the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher to children with special needs.

This got me thinking about my own educational journey, the teachers who inspired me over the years, and why I wanted to become a teacher of teachers. Maribeth Whitehouse has her story.  This one is mine:

If you are a Generation X… or anywhere near my age, you would remember the typical school lunch similar to what it depicted in this image. Image credit: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk

I teach because… 

Mrs. Rosen, my 1st grade teacher at Horace Mann Elementary School, would bring a group of students’ home to her house for a special lunch during our given birthday month for sandwiches, sparkling juice, and a dessert of chocolate chip cookies and ice cream.  She made each student feel important and taught us that relationships matter.

The Muppet Show – an iconic television series from the mid-1970s until the mid-1980s. Puppets like Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, and many more, entertained families on a weekly basis. There was always a special ‘human’ guest on the show – typically a famous Hollywood star who would serve as master of ceremonies and appear in various puppet skits. Image credit: Jim Henson Productions https://www.henson.com/

I teach because…

In middle school, I was very small for my age, I was awkward, and desperate to fit in with the cool kids.  Mr. Wallace, my music teacher, wrote a musical play based on the television program “The Muppet Show” which was all the rage back in those days.  He believed that I had musical talent and gave me the role of ‘Trixie LaBomba’ the guest star host.  In doing so, Mr. Wallace taught me to believe in myself.

Image depicts a teacher writing french words on a white board with blue ‘dry erase’ marker. Image credit: https://www.freeimages.com

I teach because…

In high school, I wasn’t the most academically sound student, because I was often more concerned with my social life and social standing than my academic standing.  Miss Griffith, my French teacher, made learning about French language and culture fun.  In a country where very few Americans ever travel outside of the continent of North America their entire lives, Miss Griffith sparked my interest in a more global worldview.  

Image depicts Dr Thomas Behler, Professor of Sociology (retired) working at his desk with a screen reader and braille printer at Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan, USA. Image credit: https://www.fsutorch.com

I teach because…

The day I walked into my first sociology class at Uni, I was introduced to a white-haired man, with the most positive, jolly disposition, who had been born completely blind.  This man was Dr Tom Behler, Senior Professor of Sociology.  Dr. Behler challenged every bias and pre-conceived notion that I had about society, about disability, and about access to education.  This man, despite all odds, and despite his lack of sight, was an incredibly well-educated and successful.  A community member, teacher, husband, father and grandfather.  Dr. Behler taught me that although the world is suffering, it is also full of the ability to overcome it and to never stop learning because life never stops teaching.

Image depicts white blocks that spell out the word TEACH on a wood-grained table with stacks of books blurred in the background. Image credit: https://www.pxfuel.com/en/free-photo-euykl

I teach because…

I care.

I teach because…

Because it is what I am meant to do.

I teach because…

You (the learner) are important to me.

Image depicts a childe writing a quote in white chalk on a green chalkboard: Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world – Nelson Mandela. Image credit: https://www.wordsonimages.com

I teach because…

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela

You can find this video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUodKLf4rRw