Monday, June 16, 2014

Going into education for all the wrong reasons

Like many young people, I struggled with direction about my career path during college. As I finished the general education requirements and the pressure to choose a major was mounting, I was still uncertain of what I was supposed to do. Before it was over, I considered business, law school, and even the Marine Corps, but in the end I decided on education.

And although I have no regrets about that decision, I really went into education for the wrong reasons. You see I didn't really have a passion for making a difference in the lives of students (I know that sounds really selfish, but that's the truth). I wasn't passionate about teaching and didn't long to see young learners have that "aha moment." I wasn't even really that crazy about school when I did my first tour of duty as a student for 12+ years.

So why in the world did I choose education? Where else can you make that kind of money and have three months off in the summer? Just kidding obviously. However, I did have a distant relative make comments like that to me. He did not respect educators.

The actual reason I chose to be an educator was I loved basketball. That was my passion. And as much as I loved playing basketball, it just made sense for me to want to coach basketball. So I majored in English with a minor in History with the intent to find a teaching position where I could also coach.

To be clear, there were some other reasons for my decision. My parents both valued learning and loved me, and several family members had been successful teachers. My dad would talk about teachers who made an impact on his life and that always got my attention. And, I had some teachers who really made all the difference for me, that really helped set me on a better path. One of my coaches, who I wrote about in an earlier post, was especially inspiring.

But the main reason for my decision was I loved basketball. So maybe that's not the worst reason ever to become an educator (doing is for money, prestige, or fame are definitely worse reasons). But it's also not the best. The best reason to become an educator is because it's a calling, because you feel that it's your life purpose to make an impact on the lives of students and help them be successful. That's truly the only great reason to become a teacher, because you love students and love teaching.

Now my story doesn't end there. I followed my basketball dreams, and it was a good thing. I learned a lot. And as my career story continued to unfold I began to find a passion for teaching and for creating the best learning opportunities possible for students. There really is something to be said for doing something your very best and watching as your passion follows that commitment. Over time I became a passionate educator. And I still love basketball too.

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