Why We Teach

I want to share an epiphany moment I had early in my teaching career. I taught ninth grade science in a school that had a high transition rate, so it was no surprise when a girl came up to my desk after class one day with a drop slip to sign.

She was a small, shy girl who sat in the back of the room. Taking little thought, I mechanically signed the paperwork and mumbled a good luck wish to her. She turned to leave but stopped at the door and ran back to me. Biting her lower lip, with tears in her eyes, she hugged my neck as a little girl would hug her daddy and said, “Mr. Prater, thank you so much for all you’ve done for me.”

You know, I’m not sure if I had ever spoken one word to that girl personally. I barely knew her name, but evidently something I had done made an impact on her. I began to comprehend just how important we teachers are in kids’ lives, more important than we many times realize.

Since then, her face has haunted me, and I made a commitment that I would never treat another student like that. I made an effort every day of my career to look students in the eye and greet them when they came into my room. I wanted to be involved in their lives and let them know that at least one adult cared about them. I wanted to always earn the respect and gratitude that little freshman girl had for me.


About mprater

I'm a recently retired school teacher/administrator continuing to help people grow through personal learning. When not blogging, I do consulting work for schools and organizations, make presentations at conferences, and research for publication. At the same time, I have to set aside enough time to enjoy the "good life" of retirement!
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2 Responses to Why We Teach

  1. Brenna says:

    Sometimes we have those moments when students express their appreciation and love for us. Often those times come when we are really having a ‘Monday’ or a rough day. I teach early childhood students at a corporate early learning center and wonder sometimes if I am really in the right place, if I am over-qualified for the place. Then I think how much I love the creativity of early childhood and remember why I teach. I wrote this post on my own blog today: http://www.brennaphillips.com/why-do-we-teach-early-childhood-students

    • mprater says:

      Brenna, thanks for your comment. I read your recent blog, and I can tell that you have a heart for teaching young children. I encourage you to continue in the calling that you have chosen.

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