By Rita DiCarne
The past few years have been tough on Catholic school teachers with the closing of schools and the reduction of teaching staff. Many of my non-teaching friends encouraged me to leave the profession and “recreate” myself like all the popular magazines suggest. One friend in particular asked me, “What else do you see yourself doing?” My response was silence. I just couldn’t come up with a single thing – not one.
You see, I teach for selfish reasons. Teaching gives me permission to be a life-long learner, to read and write and share my passions with my students. It challenges me to be the best me I can be and in turn encourage my students to be their best selves. Teaching keeps me young at heart and mind through my daily interactions with students and gives me the chance to see the world through their eyes. They teach me as much or even more than I hope they are learning in our classroom.
As Alice Morse Earle said, “Every day may not be good, but there’s good in every day.” Teaching is not easy, but it is rewarding beyond measure. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see a student uncover a talent he or she didn’t know they had or was too afraid to pursue, or to watch a group of students collaborating on a project and learning how to negotiate and compromise in order to achieve their goal. Having a student ask, “Mrs. D., can I stay in at lunch recess to work on this?” is music to my ears.
As I prepared for my first job interview in over 23 years I was working on my portfolio and trying to revise my Philosophy of Education I had written when I was first out of college. Back then I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but looking back I am not sure I knew what that meant. Now I know. This is the list poem that is now on my “Philosophy of Education” page of my portfolio.
Lighter of a spark
Ignite a fire
Tender of the flame
Encourage new thinking
Foster a spirit of collaboration
Guide to discovery
Focus on fresh ideas
Lead to new self-awareness
Direct to unexplored paths
Champion of Learning
Applaud the efforts
Cheer the unexpected
Celebrate the breakthroughs
In what other profession does a person get to be and do all of those things? So when someone asks me why I teach there is only one simple answer. I teach because that’s who I am – a teacher.
Reprinted with permission from the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project.