I always feel a little guilty when I go to those inservice meetings where someone says, “I didn’t go into teaching for the money.” Here’s my problem: I did go into to teaching for the money. I did not set out from high school to be a teacher. I wanted to go into speech-language pathology, but I surrendered to the ministry shortly after high school, changing those plans. I needed to find a line of work that could support my preaching, a line of work that did not require weekends or summers. Teaching was it. So, I always feel a little guilty about that.
It didn’t take long, however, for my motives for teaching to change. I saw something more than a paycheck. I found something that gave meaning. Some teachers call their classrooms a mission field. Some teachers say that teaching is a calling for them. No matter how you view your classroom and your students, there must be an overarching reason for teaching, a goal greater than simply exposing students to new content, a reason why we teach. I believe we must teach for life change. This doesn’t have to be spiritual, but it could be. This doesn’t have to be emotional, but it could be. We teach for life change because that is the essence of true education.
But we know that’s not what teaching is. We know that’s not why we teach. We teach to change lives. We teach to shape, form, mold, build, and grow. We teach to love, to care, to help, and to nurture. We teach for life change. Remind yourself of that often. Remind yourself of that next time you hear TESS, IEP, AIP, ELL, SES, ALP, ALE, ISD, ADE, EOC, NSLA, PGP, LEADS (we have enough acronyms to choke a horse), or anything else educationalese. Remind yourself of this when you deal with your next difficult student. Remind yourself of this when you have one of those days. We teach to change lives.