A Teacher’s Manifesto

There are some people in this country who have ignorantly made the statement “Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach.” I would like to take a few moments to publicly react and respond to such obvious ignorance regarding the people who choose to enter the teaching profession.

I agree with the first part of the statement – those that can, do. However, I do not choose to teach because I am incapable of doing other jobs. I have no doubt whatsoever that I could do other jobs and do them well. I could easily walk into Corporate America and learn another job. I can because I know how to learn. It is because of this knowledge of the learning process, though, that I am able to teach. I could quite probably turn my Master’s degree into a career that pays a much higher salary and would allow me to leave my job at the end of the day and not have it consume my thoughts and my heart constantly. I could easily choose to do a job. I choose, instead, to pursue something that is much more than any job – I choose to work with teenagers.

I choose to teach because it is at the core of who I am. I teach because I have no other choice than to do what I have been called to do. I choose to teach because I care about students. I care about their well-being and I care about helping them to master difficult concepts. I choose to teach because I have a deep understanding of my content area through years of working through a BA and an MEd program that I paid for through my own efforts. I teach because I have an innate desire to share my love of my content area with my students. Teaching is not what I do, it is who I am.

I have been in this profession for 15 years now. In that time, I have poured my heart into countless students. I have often given them the best of me, leaving little to nothing for my own family at the end of the day. I have been available to them by phone, chat, text, or email at ridiculous hours of the day and night. Many of them come to me without enough food to eat or without sufficient sleep and I meet them where they are. They often come to me not speaking my language clearly and with mere survival on their minds and I challenge them to rise above their circumstances and dream. They come to me from homes where they are the primary caregiver for their younger siblings because their single parent works 2nd shift, causing them to have precious little time for study at home until their siblings are in bed and I accept the work they are able to turn in quite often later than the assigned due date. They come to me afraid of failure and I help them to turn their failures into learning opportunities that give them doorways to success.

I do much more than teach my students. I counsel, guide, provoke, encourage, challenge, assist, support, discipline, share, and yes… I love my students. At the end of the day, that is the one basic need that they need met more than any. And I meet them at their need.

Yes, those who can, do. However, those who understand and care, teach.