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Why Teach?:
By Teresa Bell Kindred

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?"

Teresa Bell Kindred

Teresa Bell Kindred teaches at Glasgow High School in Glasgow, Kentucky. She also is a published author, public speaker and freelance writer. She is married and the mother of five children. To learn more about Mrs. Kindred, visit her Web site at

Many years ago one of my high school students asked me the question, "Mrs. Kindred, why do you teach?" Without taking time to reflect, I answered, "Because someday I might say something that might make a difference in someone's life." Even though I was sincere, that wasn't a very good answer and my student didn't let it slide.

"Let me get this straight," he said, "You went to college for four years so you could come here every day because you have the hope that someday you might say something that will influence someone?" He shook his head as if I were crazy and walked away looking confused.

Actually, it was more than four years of college because Kentucky teachers are required to get their masters degree, but I didn't tell him that. I never have done well with spur of the moment retorts. I'm one of those people who look back and wish they had said something smart or witty, but in real life, I'm just not a quick thinker.

Even though that particular student might no longer wonder why I teach, there are days when I wonder. On those days, I remind myself of the real reasons I teach:

  • It's in my blood. My mother was my most influential teacher, and she was a 6th grade reading teacher until her death in 1990. She instilled in me a love of reading and the knowledge that education opens doors.
  • Teaching is a way to make a difference. If you throw a stone in a pond the ripples go on and on until they reach the shore. You can't have ripples without a "stone." Good teachers throw stones that make a positive difference, and that's what I strive to do.
  • I genuinely love teenagers. My friends who are elementary level teachers don't understand how I deal with the backtalk and the other problems that come with the onset of hormones. It takes patience, but all teaching requires patience.
  • I want to share with others what I know and what I have learned through the years. Life is full of ups and downs, and if I can help students avoid some potholes on the road of life, I want to do so. If they'll allow me to celebrate their victories with them, I want to do that too.

Teaching isn't for everyone, but I know I made the right career choice. You either love it or you don't -- and I do.

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