April 22, 2022 by Ashley Causey
There has never been a point in my career in education when I have regretted being a teacher. The education profession has become one that is an environment of constant change and in need of improvement, and I love being the heart of that drive for positive change. Educators are the very people who can pull a student from the mire of negativity or the cycle of feeling like a failure. Many parents CANNOT do what an educator CAN do. My reason for teaching is knowing I make a difference in a student’s life every day. Teaching is a mindful, creative, and noble profession. There are days when it IS difficult and there are years when it has been difficult to stay, but the positives have certainly overcome the negatives.
Teaching teenagers provides so many laughable moments, and while there is never a dull moment, knowing I am making a difference in the lives of my students drives me to get up every day. I have the opportunity to be an encourager, counselor, school mom, friend, role model, and educator all at the same time. I have heard many of my students say that my classroom is like a safe haven. That safety makes me feel like students enjoy being in my classroom and if they are comfortable, they will want to learn.
Mentoring new educators is also important to me. I had a wonderful cooperating teacher during my teaching internship that led to a teaching position the following year. Without the guidance and support of her excellent example, I would not have become the educator I am today. It is because of her example, that I feel like I can give back to the profession by mentoring aspiring educators. Now more than ever, the profession must have educators that love what they do and love the content they teach. When we love what we teach, our students pick up on that, and in turn, while seeing our passion, they want to also learn our content.
Staying the course in the field of education has been challenging over the last three years, especially in light of the impact of COVID and social distancing. More educators left the field of education than normal due to the parameters that were placed on in-person teaching. Many educators were teaching BOTH modalities, virtual and in-person. The expectation to do both left many educators overwhelmed at best and burned out at worst. For those educators that were able to persevere, the benefits came from being able to build relationships with students since there were fewer students in classes, as well as being able to help struggling students perform better with more personalized learning opportunities. The frustrations were high, but with parent and student frustrations running high, many educators were able to ease that frustration and find ways to alleviate the loss of normalcy for students and families.
The satisfaction I often receive from my students at the high school level occurs when they return daily to talk and ask me how I’m doing or when I get notes and letters of encouragement and appreciation as they mature. Teaching freshmen is challenging in and of itself, and when students mature through grades 10-12, it is amazing to see the transformation in how they’ve grown and how they really appreciate how much I tolerated their immaturity as 9th graders. Moving through the four years in high school gives students the opportunity to experience events that allow them to see how they need people on their side in life. I often teach my students the lesson of knowing important people to provide references for future employment or college admissions. Teaching students about connections in life is essential. When students see how connections are essential, they also understand how they may be a future connection for someone else. The cycle of connection is essential in a changing world where people are more diverse and jobs require more diversity.
As challenging as teaching is, excellent educators need to be the driving force to inspire more excellent educators to enter the profession. Any chance you have to influence the future of education, take that leap!
The Elevating Teachers blog is a platform designed to elevate educator voices. It’s a space to share stories and tips for maintaining a sense of purpose and wellbeing in and out of the classroom.
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Ashley Causey is a wife and mom to five. She has been an educator for 25 years who loves working with teens and being able to change their mindset regarding the purpose of education. She earned her EdD in Educational Leadership from North Greenville University and uses those leadership skills daily in the classroom.