If you’re looking for a definite, data-backed answer to this question, you won’t find it here. What you will find is the honest, simple truth. What you will find are the secrets that have remained well-hidden from the majority of the world’s population who do not teach.
Why don’t more people teach? Because most people don’t know the truth about teaching. Perhaps some veteran teachers maintain a false facade of a cranky cripple behind tenured teacher desks to hide the heavenly, guarded truth about teaching. Some teachers must protect the craft after all. We don’t want everyone snatching up teaching jobs left and right. Only those who truly seek employment in education need apply. Without these teachers, we would have no businesswomen, no engineers, no stay-at-home dads, and no professional athletes. Without these clever bats, we would all teach. Next time your mind wanders back to a negative thought of a past teacher, realize that all teachers teach from the same place: from their hearts. We all teach from a place of love for you, for teaching, and for learning every day. Be grateful.
Why don’t more people teach? Because we are selfish, we who teach. Because we know teaching is a blessing and a curse: we are blessed to teach so many curious souls, and cursed that we will never be able to teach or reach everyone about everything. We are faced with the task of touching and teaching life’s little secrets to hundreds of students every day. We are asked to guide students in solving life’s big problems. Big or little, we must do it all. Think about it: we are not just teaching common denominators in math, themes of intolerance & racism in literature, and times of turmoil in America’s history; we are teaching you how to divide up checks equally, how to treat people with humanity and decency, how to learn from and not repeat your mistakes. We teach you Life.
Why don’t more people teach? Because you, our students, have the ability to outshine all of us at any time on any day. Your greatness and your potential is outstanding, remarkable, tangible, enlightening. Those of us who do teach have come to terms with this. It does not scare us away or intimidate us into wearing dunce caps in dark corners. It is what pushes us to learn from you and to teach you every day. You teach us to let our egos become mere shadows behind us so that we can learn from the brightness that shines before us.
You are this world’s future, whether you know it or not. Today in schools, we learn of Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Harper Lee, and Amelia Earhart. Behind each of these men and women was a teacher, who knew them well before history books did. Within every teacher is the lingering, dreamy thought that each and every one of you has the ability and talent to do something amazing in this world. Each of you can write your name into history books with the decisions and differences you make in this world. Each of you holds within you the power and the brightness to change the world with just a thought, a hope, a dream, an action. Whatever you do in this world, let it enlighten us today and brighten the generations of tomorrow. Whatever you do, do good in this world.
Whatever we do, we will continue teaching because…it’s what we do. And not everyone can teach. We teach because we know in our hearts it’s what we’re meant to do. We teach so that you might learn what you know to be true in your hearts. So why don’t more people teach? Because it’s hard. Because it’s great. Because we are blessed with so many different individuals with varying life experiences and learning styles, and challenged with the same. Because nothing ever really goes as planned. Because though teaching is one of the most difficult occupations and not the typical 9 to 5, it doesn’t pay all that well. Because our professional wisdom is tested daily and yearly by parents and standardized tests alike.
More people don’t teach because teaching is one of the best-kept, right-under-your-noses secrets. Though we sit in dozens of classrooms from preschool through high school, we do not see school from a teacher’s perspective. We are students first. Well, here’s some news for you: as teachers, we are still students first. And it is a joy to learn from all of you, our students, every day. So please, never stop learning, and never stop teaching us, enlightening us, and brightening our days. Whatever you do, be the light in someone’s life.
Whatever we do, we promise to keep teaching, with the hope that some of you might be brave enough, wise enough, selfish and selfless enough…to teach.
For the version I will read aloud to my students, click here.