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One Wonderful Teacher Leads to Another
By Kathleen Cave

What is teaching like today? Who should do it? And who shouldn't? This Education World series features essays on teaching by teachers as they answer the question, "If you had it to do all over again, would you still become a teacher?"

Kathleen Cave

Kathleen Cave now is the technology integration teacher at Sparks Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland. Read more about Mrs. Cave.

I knew in fourth grade that I wanted to be a teacher. My reason, as I suspect many people might say is theirs, was because of a wonderful teacher. I don't even know Mrs. Ellis's first name, but she meant the world to me.

On my second day of college, I registered as an education major and I never looked back. My first years of teaching were sometimes difficult, and I realized what most of us realize early on -- instruction can't happen in an undisciplined room. I don't mean a boring room. My desks are always clustered in groups and my students have lots of interaction time with each other and with technology. What I mean is that students desire some routine and structure in their lives. By providing that structure, we meet with success.

Early on, I learned that I should never raise my voice. That was the best lesson of my teaching life. Instead of the stress of constantly raising my voice to get attention, I speak in a very low tone and wait to speak until I know I have everyone's attention. I try to speak as little as possible, allowing my students to learn from one another, as well as from me. Those two strategies -- providing structure and staying calm -- have allowed me to love every minute of teaching!

Several years ago, I received a Christa McAuliffe Fellowship, which led to me leaving the classroom for several years to take a position at our State Department of Education. Although my experiences there were invaluable, because I got to work with teachers from all around the state, I missed the classroom. After nearly 5 years away, I returned to teaching 4th grade. I can honestly say that the only thing I miss is the longer lunch period. I love being in a school again!

It's true that I don't make a lot of money and the hours are long, but if you like working with children, there is nothing better to do with your life.

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