Those Who Can Teach | A Blog for Principals and Teachers – School Matters

 
 

Those Who Can Teach

 
 

 

 

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Perhaps it wasn’t a fair question. And, in all the years that I asked, they were unsure of the answer I wanted. But, to me, it was the best way to know if the teacher I was interviewing was the best person for the job.

Sure, I would check for mastery in the subject matter to be taught and make sure they had the training required to be successful in the classroom. Experience was a plus but not necessarily a deal breaker. Strong character, professionalism, strong work ethic, honesty and integrity were, however, a must. But, that wasn’t my BIG question.

The simple question that would reveal to me whether this was the man or woman who I wanted in my classroom was: Why do you want to be a teacher?

I was frequently taken aback by the fact that this question caught some candidates by surprise. However, even though they had invested significant time and effort towards teaching degrees, many had never reflected deeply on why they wanted to be teachers in the first place. It was almost as if they had bought into the saying ‘those who can do, those who can’t teach’, and would love to answer, “Well, since I can’t do anything else, my only remaining option was to be a teacher”.

So you want to know, what was the answer I was looking for? Given subject mastery, training, etc, what else could a teacher possibly need, and why was it THE criteria for success?

OK, the answer I was looking for is, “because I love to teach”. Do yourself, your school and your students a favor; do not put teachers in the classroom unless they are passionately in love with either the students or the subject they teach, preferably both. A teacher who lacks passion is like a concert pianist who lost his fingers; talent, skill and training just won’t make a difference. The one constant in any teacher who ever made a real difference in a child’s life is the passion they displayed when they stepped in front of their students. Uninspired teaching makes learning a burden and can singlehandedly destroy the innate excitement children possess for learning. If you, the teacher, are not excited about coming in to teach, then do the right thing; stay home! Would you want to go under the knife of a brain surgeon who just feels ‘burnt out’ today? The results can be just as devastating.

 

I well understand the grind of a full time teacher over the course of a long school year. The demands placed upon teachers are significant indeed. But, that just makes the requirement of passion for the profession even more compelling. And to those who say not everyone can possess such passion, I answer, who ever said teaching was for everybody? For, in truth, those who cannot do cannot begin to teach.

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5 Comments

  1. That is such a great question to ask! More teachers needs to be excited about their profession and their students. It is so dissapointing when people become teachers when it isn’t their passion. More principals need to be asking this question to their staff. Good post.

    • Austin Trujillo says:

      I agree. I am in an ethics class right now at CSUN and we are learning about teaching efficacy and how to be passionate about the profession. The bottom line is that we are teaching the future and we need to use all of the resources available to us to do so. I would love to hear an opinion of how to keep such a positive attitude for long term career in education.

      • Karmi Gross says:

        When you look at teaching as an amazing opportunity to do the most important work possible, it’s pretty easy to remain inspired. You have to have the attitude: “I can’t believe they actually pay me to do this!” (Just make sure they don’t hear you say that.)

  2. This blog speaks to me right at this moment. It is disappointing the amount of teachers who are not in love with their profession, teaching or being in the company of kids or really want to have their students master your subject or have a passion for it. I am learning through recent experience how much I miss the classroom, love teaching and having “those teacher moments”. I like what I do now, but not as much as the classroom. I have gone back to full time study to retrain as a primary teacher to reinvent myself and my passion. Great post.

    • Karmi Gross says:

      Your comment came at a great time. I just received an email from an old friend who told me he got sick as soon as vacation would begin. Teaching, it seems, kept him healthy! That’s the teacher I want in my classroom.

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