Often times when I tweet, I use the hashtag #ILoveMyJob. And the fact of the matter is that I really do love my job. In the last 3 weeks, my thirteen-year-old asked if I liked my job. I responded that I LOVE my job and I look forward to going to work every day. I thought it would be good for me to make a list of reasons why I love my job.
- Building relationships with my students. Each semester I get to meet a new group of students in 1 or 2 of my classes; also, I get to have some of my students in classes 2 or 3 semesters in a row. In both cases, I get to know my students on a more personal level. Some are more willing to share their interests with me than others, but for the most part, I can tell you something non-academic about each of my students. In addition, they get to know me on a different level; I frequently share stories about my kids and experiences from my teaching life or my personal life. For me, this is the best part of my job. Even better is when my relationship with my students goes beyond the semester, through graduation, and into their career.
- Seeing students succeed. Some students feel like their teachers are out to get them. I truly hope that my students don’t feel like that. Students that had me 20 years ago may disagree, but I have evolved in my teaching A LOT. There really is no better feeling for a teacher than seeing a student work hard and succeed in your course. I think that is the one thing that all of our alumni say when they talk about teaching—they love it when a lightbulb turns on for a student. I think it is because when a student succeeds, we feel like we have succeeded! This perk continues well beyond my students’ time in my classroom—when they graduate, get their first job, and grow in their career.
- Sharing my love of math. When I went to college, I was not a math major, but I have always loved math. It makes sense (most of the time) and there is always an answer to the problem. During Calc 3, I finally decided that math was the major for me, but that I was NEVER going to teach it. I still tell my students to “never say never.” I started teaching as a TA for College Algebra; I am fairly certain that I didn’t do a good job that semester or even the next semester. However, at some point, I fell in love with teaching because I could share my love of math! These feelings continue to this day—I still love math and I love to share the cool things about it with my students. Yes, most days I seem a little crazy and look like a dork, but it is me—and my students will likely all agree that I am always real with them!
- Growing as a teacher. Since I have the privilege of teaching pre-service math teachers, we talk about teaching in all of our classes. My students always share their wisdom, great ideas, and ways to make the class better. I love listening to their thoughts and talking with them about teaching. I always tell them that “if you think that you are done growing as a teacher, you should probably retire.” They help me grow and improve as a teacher—and they keep me young. At least, that is what I keep telling myself!
I am a firm believer in “everything happens for a reason.” My path to my current position was not direct—there were forks in the road and twists in the path. But, ultimately, I found my way to a job I love, teaching students that I love, and working with people that I love—nothing gets better than this!