I’m sitting in class watching my students review each other’s papers. These are the big ones, the research papers, due at the end of our term next Saturday. Each time I start to wrap up a class, I’m amazed at what we have accomplished as students, teacher, and colleagues.
Here are, in honor of my summer students, the top ten reasons I love teaching English.
10. It’s the one thing I know well. I’m not an expert in many things, but I know how to write. It’s nice to feel knowledgable in something.
9. I enjoy watching students “get” something for the first time. For example, when I explain that the purpose of the conclusion is to not only restate all the points the writer just made in the paper but also to show why the paper is important, I love to see students see how their writing is valuable to the reader.
8. I relish the challenge of finding new ways to explain things. Most of us need to hear an idea more than once to fully understand it; thus, a teacher often has to say the same thing several times, each time in a slightly new way, to be sure that a student understands her point.
7. I enjoy being the center of attention. It’s true. I like the energy that comes from having a group of people pay attention to me for a period of time.
6. I love having the opportunity to help students find out what they think about things. This summer, my composition class is themed around food, and I have really loved seeing my students begin to consider their food choices and to see them working out their own food philosophies.
5. I appreciate that I’m part of a larger system. Most of the English classes I teach are not for English majors or even people who formally consider themselves writers, so I really value the fact that I’m helping prepare my students to be writers in different fields like business or science.
4. Diversity in people and ideas thrills me. Nothing makes me more happy than when I have a classroom full of people who are confident and solid in their opinions, even when their ideas differ from mine or each other’s.
3. I like a good fight. A verbal one that is. I love having students take a stance and find their support for that stance. I also really love when these stances launch debates, and I get to see the students defend their opinions with logic and solid evidence.
2. I think writing and the analysis of text is really important. Even in our visual culture, the ability to understand a text (a picture is a text), analyze it, and articulate your analysis is crucial. We need people who can use their minds to understand and interpret everything from a film to a theory to a business move to a solution for an air conditioning problem. Writing and reading help with all these skills.
1. I adore my students. While sometimes they do infuriate me, and while occasionally I am disappointed, for the most part I am just blown away by the depth of thought, compassionate, and experience my students have. Each class I get to work with a new group of talented people, and that is, truly, the best part of my job.
Why do you love your job?