• Tiye Naeemah Cort

Keeping It Real: Why the Heck am I Still Teaching?

I end up asking myself this question at least once a week. It may be that I have a particularly long day, and after coming home exhausted after sunset, I question why I am still here. Sometimes, it is prompted by a class that just lacks the pep that they usually have- making me do all of the talking and pushing in our discussion-based classes. Other times, I simply miss the simplicity of coming to an office at 9:00 a.m., and being able to go home at 5:00 p.m. without having to worry about the work I have to finish at home.

So why am I still teaching? Really, I don’t know if it is more for me or for others. I know that sounds really kind and Christian of me, but I often question who I do it for. I could say it is for me because all of my teaching experience is included on the same resume that advances me professionally every year. But as far as payoff, teaching is one of those careers that doesn’t pay off until years later. Maybe it will pay off next year when my then graduating seniors will let me know how much I influenced their decisions to major in English for undergrad. I guess every now and then, receiving emails from parents letting me know that I am their child’s favorite teacher does provide a certain sense of fulfillment. And I can’t forget the looks on the faces of my students when they reach that “Aha!” moment in the middle of a lesson. Maybe I do it for the kids. There is something that makes me smile every time my students submit assignments that let me know that they completely understood the previous day’s lesson. I must admit that I like being able to grade a kid’s exam and seeing improvement from the midterm they took a couple of weeks prior.

Maybe I am still teaching because of something else. I feel an inherent calling to be an educator. It may not always be in the capacity of a high school English teacher, but I can see that I make even the most boring literature an adventure for my students- something that I wish many more of my own English teachers had done. I like that my influence is not recognized on the television and in magazines, but through the “Hi, Ms. Cort”s I receive in the grocery store, the daily hugs I receive from my advisees, and the kind thank you cards I receive from parents who were once worried but are encouraged to discover that their children have learned how to write proper academic essays.

Why do you teach? Is there any right or wrong reason? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


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