What Makes a Great Educator

Teaching is a calling, not a job.

This quote comes from Bill O’Reilly’s book A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity.

As a veteran teacher, that realization did not come with my first several years as a teacher. Upon reading his words, I began to reminisce about the many years that I have spent in the classroom. There were quite a few occasions when I was asked “Why do you teach?” I really didn’t have an answer for myself to that question. Thoughts about it stayed with me for all the years that I have been teaching, but I was usually busy and had other things to answer and do. Now that I am semi-retired, I have the time to re-think how I would answer that question.

Back to the question. Delving back into my past, brought back many memories and reasons for my choice of career. Growing up when I did, teaching was one of the fields that were open to females and I felt that I did not have many options. One thing I do remember was that at eighteen, I was sure I was not going to be a teacher. My parents were very adamant about my getting a degree and I never thought I wouldn’t. During high school and college, I had three influential role models that happened to be teachers. Two of them were English teachers and the other one a history teacher. Also, I can remember all my teachers from first grade on and as I taught different grade levels, I remembered the teachers in that grade. Maybe that is part of my answer.

I began college in a secretarial program at a small school. The first year was liberal arts which was good for me when I transferred to a University. The transfer was because the program I was in was for four years, but I would not come out with a degree. At that time, I wanted a degree for all the work that was ahead of me, so I changed to English with journalism as my goal. Again, the times were not good for a female in that profession, so with my mother’s insistence, I chose education as my field, with English Literature as my academic major. Her reasoning was: you need to eat!

At the end of my college studies, I earned my Bachelor of Science Degree and was ready to teach. I had worked hard and enjoyed my college years. That was a long time ago!

When I look back on the time that I spent going in and out of the classroom, I always returned to teaching. I worked at other jobs when I was not teaching and was always looking back at my time with a classroom of students longingly. That was what I talked about and remembered most. Maybe another part of my answer!

There was an occasion at a social gathering that the question arose about why teachers teach and the answer given angered me. “Teachers teach because they can’t do anything else.” I was not part of that conversation, which was probably a good thing. I was raised to not make a scene or a public spectacle of myself, but my heritage and up-bringing were having a real battle inside me. My ancestors come from any country that is on “the island” as the Irish, Welsh, English and Scotch refer to the British Isles. I am proud to claim all or any of them. They compliment and control each other and that has kept me out of and got me through a lot of touchy situations. Again, this may be another part of my answer!

This has brought me to an answer to the question: Why do I teach? The best answer I can give is that I love it. I feel very blessed to have had a career that I really liked; and enjoyed going to work. The students are the reason and they are what it is all about.