It’s a big question, right? One that most teachers have asked themselves at least once in their career. Am I meant to be a teacher? What if I don’t see teaching as a calling but just as a profession? We asked educators to tell us how they knew they were meant to be teachers. Their responses are as unique and impactful as teachers themselves.
1. That moment when students suddenly understand something they had been struggling with before. —Kelly L.
What teacher doesn’t love the “a-ha moment” or “the click?” We all know how awesome it is when a kid finally gets it because of our teaching.
2. Is it OK not to know? I’m starting my second year of teaching, and I love the kids, but after last year, I just don’t know if I want this to be my life. —Sarah K.
The past few school years have been demanding in ways even the most experienced teachers couldn’t have prepared for. We admire Sarah’s vulnerability here and believe that teachers need to be supported and celebrated even when they’re not sure if they feel meant to be a teacher.
3. You are happy in the classroom. The first day I taught, I felt like I was home. —Maggie K.
4. I don’t know if I was “meant” to be a teacher. There are lots of other things I think I could be good at. But I like my job, and I give it 100%. —Mariellen C.
Teaching doesn’t have to be your entire life in order for you to make a difference in the lives of your students.
5. When you can’t picture yourself doing anything else, and you keep finding small joys even in the worst situations. —Dianne Z.
The past year or so has really put this to the test. If you could still find joy teaching behind a mask while wiping down desks with cleaning products, you definitely were meant to be a teacher.
6. Being in the classroom with the kids energizes you even if you were dreading going to school that day. —Dorothy G.
Very few people feel happiest while performing in front of large numbers of judgy young people. If you’re one of those people—you’re meant to be a teacher.
7. I always felt this question was unfair. I enjoy my profession, but it isn’t my life. And I think that’s OK. —Holden R.
In a time when “toxic positivity” is being recognized as a problem in education, maybe acknowledging that teachers can be great at their job but also leave it at school at the end of the day is a good thing? A person can be meant to be a teacher and still not have it be their entire life.
8. You love the kids even on their bad days. —Sue R.
9. You enjoy the children more than you hate all the other stupid nonsense beyond actual teaching that we have to do. —Angela A.
Paperwork, state testing, unsupportive administrators or parents—these are all things that can make a teacher’s life challenging. But at the end of the day, if you still enjoy the students more than you hate all that other stuff? You’re in the right place.
10. No matter how bad the last year was, you still have a spark of excitement for the new school year. —Samantha W.
I’ll admit it, even as this school year gears up to be just as complicated as last year, I still got happy when Target set up its school supply section.
11. Some years it’s a calling. Some years it’s a job. And that’s alright. — Mickey M.
12. You find yourself explaining things to random children at the library, the zoo, or other non-school locations. —Peta N.
The Dewey-Decimal System is actually super cool! It’s like each book in the library has its own unique address, and it makes it easy to find it… What? No, I don’t know him, but he asked how people find one book in the middle of this big library!
13. You start calling your students “your kids” to other people. —Pamela A.
I have two kids of my own. And I have hundreds that will be “my kids” forever.
14. This is a hard question. I thought I was not meant to be a teacher for years 4-7, but it turns out, it was my school. —Katherine L.
So many factors go into someone’s feeling for fulfillment in any job that it might not always feel like you were meant to be a teacher, but changing districts, buildings, subject levels, or grades might make all the difference.